Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Counterpoint; First Trade Paper Edition edition (August 29, 1995)
Review by: Robert Hambling Davis .
News of the Universe: Poems of Twofold Consciousness is an anthology of poems that support the premise that human consciousness is only one of the many forms of consciousness operating in the universe. The National Book Award winning poet Robert Bly selects and introduces the poems in this anthology, which offers a historical perspective that moves from an 18th century preoccupation with the human self in a time of alienation from the natural world, toward poems that celebrate the consciousness of non-human life species and even so-called inanimate objects. Hence the title, “news of the universe.” Bly contends that the poetry that matters the most today, or at least in 1980 when the anthology was published, illuminates the fact that we, as homo sapiens, must find our place in the world by acknowledging that we are but one of thousands of species, yet we have the power to destroy all species, including ourselves. Most of the poets in News of the Universe are western poets, including Milton, Blake, Whitman, Wordsworth, Keats, and Yeats, but Bly also includes poems by Rumi, Kabir, Mirabai, and other eastern poets of a mystical bent.
I bought this anthology soon after Sierra Books published it in paperback. I keep my copy on my nightstand, and like to read a few poems before turning out the light and falling asleep. The book helps me to remember my place in the world, by making me try to see it from an imaginary perspective: that of a bee, a horse, a rock, or a cloud, as I view the world around me each day, the world I don’t want to take for granted. To write this recommendation, I went through my copy of the book again, trying to find a short poem that best summarizes the gist of the collection, and chose this verse from Rilke’s Book of the Hours:
I live my life in growing orbits,
which move out over the things of the world.
Perhaps I can never achieve the last,
but that will be my attempt.
I am circling around God, around the ancient tower,
and I have been circling for a thousand years.
And I still don’t know if I am a falcon, .
Or a storm, or a great song.
Robert Hambling Davis is a fiction editor of The Fox Chase Review. He has been published in The Sun, Antietam Review, Memoir (and), Philadelphia Stories, Santa Monica Review, and elsewhere. He’s been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, and received three Delaware Division of the Arts grants, two for fiction and one for creative nonfiction. He was a fiction semifinalist in the William Faulkner Creative Writing Contest in 2002 and 2012, and a creative nonfiction winner in 2013. Robert helps direct the Delaware Literary Connection, a nonprofit serving writers in Delaware and surrounding areas. He is a member of the Delaware Artist Roster, and has given writing workshops and readings in the Mid-Atlantic.