Synopses & Reviews
No more profound and intimate expression of America's spiritual life can be found than the work of its poets. From Anne Bradstreet to the Beats, from Native American chant and Shaker hymnody to Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, religion and spirituality have always been central to American poetry. In this unique anthology, world-renowned scholar Harold Bloom weaves a tapestry from the many strands of American religious experience and practice: the searching meditations of Puritan pioneers, the evangelical fervor of the Great Awakenings, the mystical currents of Transcendentalism, the diverse influences of the world religions that have taken root in modern America.
Spanning four centuries and more than 200 poets, American Religious Poems is a bountiful and moving gathering of voices that offers countless moments of inspiration, solace, meditation, and transcendence. The poems in this unprecedented volume are a lasting testimony to the American spirit and its unremitting quest for ultimate truth and meaning.
This deluxe collector's edition features:
- an introduction by Harold Bloom
- a reader's guide to significant topics and themes in the poems
- Smyth-sewn binding and flexible, leatherette covers
- a ribbon page-marker
"To his long eminence as a poetry critic, Yale professor Bloom has more recently added the mantles of expert in comparative religion (Jesus and Yahweh, 2005) and all-around literary sage (Genius, 2003). This expansive anthology takes advantage of all three Bloomian reputations, gathering verse on Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Native American spiritual, Transcendentalist and even agnostic themes, from 17th-century European colonists (one poet is Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island) to up-and-comers in contemporary verse. Pious readers will have no trouble finding high-quality poetry that confirms their beliefs from the monk Thomas Merton, the Anglican T.S. Eliot, the Jewish liturgical poet Esther Schor and the Louisiana-based Christian poet Martha Serpas. Yet from the 19th century to the present, from the decidedly heterodox Emily Dickinson forwards, the anthology often highlights the ways in which American spirituality has challenged all doctrines about who God is and what God does. Herman Melville speculates about the eternal feud between 'ape and angel'; John Ashbery's 'The Recital' tells us not to care 'whether prayers were answered with concrete events,' and the Libyan-born Khaled Mattawa questions Islamic custom. More than half of the book is taken up by 20th-century poets, who offer varied takes on what religion has come to mean in America." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"There are many poems of more orthodox character (colonial Calvinist poetry, hymns, and the occasional wrestling with a Christian or Jewish doctrine), of course, and coeditor Zuba's foreword nicely points up the selection's diversity. Most important, there are hundreds of fine poems here." Booklist
The author of Jesus and Yahweh and The Western Canon captures America's spiritual life in the words of 225 of its greatest poets.
About the Author
Harold Bloom is the author of twenty-seven books, including the New York Times
bestsellers Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human; The Western Canon
; and, most recently, Jesus and Yahweh: The Names Divine
, and has been the recipient of numerous honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship and the Gold Medal for Belles Lettres and Criticism from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University and is a former Charles Eliot Norton Professor at Harvard University.
Jesse Zuba attended Princeton and Yale Universities. He teaches English at Rowan University and lives in Pitman, New Jersey.