Although it is refreshing to meet with so devout an assertion of faith as is found in Carol Lynn Pearson’s Beginnings, one wishes that the earnestness were matched by an equally viable poetic art. The reviewer, having come to an examination of the work with a predisposition in its favor (in view of its reputed wide sale), found himself, poem after poem, expecting more than was delivered.
The chief cause of disappointment was the failure of most of the poems to be poems. In reading poetry, one expects to find the author putting to good use those devices that yield a high concentration of poetic effect. If rhythm, sound, and tropes are not functioning in a more concentrated and effective way than they do in prose, we must ask: Why is this in the form of poetry instead of prose? When the author, in “Ritual,” says, “All cries out/For form,” we are tempted to respond, “Amen.” Rhythm, sound, and figures, are, of course, more than adjuncts of meaning. They reinforce meaning and, in fact, become meaning. I have failed, in Beginnings, to find any place where it seems to me that the sound and the rhythm of a poem have an organic function, any place where they are more than decorative embellishments.