Love Set You Going
How does this collection of love poetry differ from so many others? Well, Janet Morley has chosen poems dealing with different stages of life, describing in her thoughtful introduction how ‘life offers us, and asks of us, many different kinds of love, and poets have reflected, with insight and acute observation, on them all.’
Janet Morley has chosen poems conveying many facets of love at our various ages and stages while avoiding any she might have commented on in her previous books, such as The Heart's Time (SPCK, 2011), Haphazard by Starlight (SPCK, 2013) and Our Last Awakening (SPCK, 2016).
Thinking about dementia from the perspective of a woman contemplating the possibility that she may one day live with the disease, (‘What's in a name?’ by Christine de Luca) was a particular highlight for me.
As the poems move us from babyhood (and parenthood) through memories of our own childhood, adolescence and growing maturity, Morley begins to explore how poetry helps us make sense of the ageing process. She draws on poets such as George Herbert, Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, R.S. Thomas and Rowan Williams as well as sections of poetry in the Bible, to explore the final section entitled ‘God and the Human Heart.’
I particularly welcomed her insight that ‘to be a Christian is not so much about assenting to a series of doctrinal statements, as it is agreeing to place oneself inside the story, which then transforms how the whole world appears.’ Morley shows how some contemporary religious poets, rather than addressing God directly, find it more appealing to write ‘from the inside of a biblical story, letting the confusion and uncertainty the characters experience in encountering God stand for our own.’
Love Set You Going is a collection of poetry to enjoy oneself and, perhaps, give to others who may be facing uncomfortable transitions in life. Morley's own faith and emotional intelligence shine through her careful selection as well as her succinct reflections on each poem.
I kept wishing I'd had her for an English teacher when I was young, while also giving thanks for those kindly teachers I did know, who awakened a love of language and literature that still stands me in good stead when digging deep for understanding and solace!
This title can be ordered from SPCK.