FLOWERS OF HEAVEN:
One Thousand Years of Christian Verse
Edited by Joseph Pearce
(Ignatius Press, 2005, 300pp, $33.90. Available from Freedom Publishing)
Flowers of Heaven is an accessible, inexpensively produced anthology of some of the finest Christian verse written during the second millennium of the Christian era. The book offers a balanced cross-section of 70 Christian poets, representing various periods in time, many nations and most of the major Christian denominations.
All the great Christian poets are represented: Hildegard of Bingen and Francis of Assisi from the 12th century; Dante and Chaucer from the High Middle Ages; Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and John Donne from the Reformation period; English and American Romantics such as Browning and Whittier; more recent 19th- century mystics such as Emily Dickenson and Gerard Manley Hopkins, and the great Catholic converts of that era, Cardinal Newman and G.K. Chesterton; and T.S. Eliot speaks out of, and into our own times.
The editor, Joseph Pearce, is a well-known American author of literary biographies including, Tolkien: Man and Myth and The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde. Pearce teaches at Ave Maria University, Florida, where he is Writer-in-Residence. The University is famous for its strong Catholic ethos.
In his selection, Pearce has made a determined and successful attempt to choose poems which meet professional academic standards and the taste of convinced Christian readers. This is a must for libraries and for those private readers who respond to verse which explores spiritual realities from a variety of perspectives.