Ruin and Beauty
New and Selected Poems
Poetry arises from the search for sacred language that describes the awe and mystery of the real world. Deena Metzger is a contemporary poet who has aligned herself with this ancient tradition. This collection, that includes selections from her earlier books of poetry – Dark Milk, The Axis Mundi Poems, Looking For the Faces of God , A Sabbath Among the Ruins and Skin:Shadows/Silence draws on her life’s work, more than forty years of devotion to the word, and aligns itself with such a quest for meaning that has increasing urgency because of the spiritual and political ruins of our time. It is no longer sufficient, she believes, for the poet to be an unacknowledged legislator of the world, for the committed poet is called to engage with full heart in the continuous activity of restoration on behalf of beauty, wisdom and the natural world. Here we meet the articulate voices of the otherwise silenced, the voices of the animals, the land and the elementals, rain, wind fire and earth, and our responsibility to them. This book combines a searing look at the horrors that we permit, the anguish of human cruelty, brutality, and indulgence, but carrying the fierce determination to live, act, and write on behalf of the soul in all its manifestations. In this collection, despair is acknowledged but not indulged, as Metzger engages in the meticulous task of reconstructing a world, informed by the past and history as language demands, but, extracting ourselves from its violence and caprices, looking toward a viable future and all its unexpected possibilities.
Poetry arises from the search for sacred language thatdescribes the awe and mystery of the realworld.Deena Metzger is a contemporarypoet who has aligned herself with this ancient tradition. This collection, thatincludes selections from her earlier books of poetry – , and draws on her life’swork, more than forty years of devotion to the word, and aligns itself withsuch a quest for meaning that has increasing urgency because of the spiritualand political ruins of our time.It isno longer sufficient, she believes, for the poet to be an unacknowledgedlegislator of the world, for the committed poet is called to engage with fullheart in the continuous activity of restoration on behalf of beauty, wisdom andthe natural world.Here we meet thearticulate voices of the otherwise silenced, the voices of the animals, theland and the elementals, rain, wind fire and earth, and our responsibility to them.This book combines a searing look at thehorrors that we permit, the anguish of human cruelty, brutality, andindulgence, but carrying the fierce determination to live, act, and write onbehalf of the soul in all its manifestations. In this collection, despair isacknowledged but not indulged, as Metzger engages in the meticulous task ofreconstructing a world, informed by the past and history as language demands,but, extracting ourselves from its violence and caprices, looking toward aviable future and all its unexpected possibilities.
Praise For Ruin and Beauty: New and Selected Poems…
This collection is as much a gathering of souls as it is an array of soft and dazzling poems. Deena Metzger is a sentinel against silence, reminding us with each offering how blessed we are to be able to die of beauty, how we can have rain in the midst of the rubble, how to have rain and begin again.
- Ariel Dorfman
To what the poet witnesses, Deena Metzger adds nothing but the light of her imagination, whose like has not visited the West since Lawrence encountered snakes there. In her, imagination is the practice of holy recognition of each thing she observes and the act of discovering and communicating the hidden order of things.
- Marc Kaminsky
You will be surprised. Deena’s Metzger’s poetry is well known in California, but it ought to be known throughout the world. And hopefully now with this extraordinary volume it will be. Here are beautiful poems, nuanced and yet in their own way, ferociously truthful, with a wonderful music, both plain speaking and spell binding. I recommend this magic. If as a poet I have long believed that poetry can save the world, what I want to say now is: this poetry can save the world.
- Susan Griffin. Author of Wrestling with the Angel of Democracy and A Chorus of Stones
Deena Metzger has spent a life in fierce devotion to the words and action that cut through to where spirit still resides in the ruins of our shattered world. In RUIN AND BEAUTY, Deena gifts us with poems that serve as life preservers. This is a singular vision honed over a lifetime of devotion to words and action, love and wisdom. Â I can imagine seekers carrying this book five centuries from now and reciting these poems, much as we do Kabir and Rumi and Hafiz, to keep the spirit alive under daunting conditions.
- Edward Tick
Author, WAR AND THE SOUL
Founder/Director Soldier's Heart
"Did you think The Presence would fail to leave a scar?" asks Deena Metzger in RUIN AND BEAUTY. She's a poet of visionary questions: "Can the world/heal/in this body?" And the stakes she plays for are high. Her new and much-anticipated book is tense with numinous presences: Neruda, Georg Trakl, the Chumash. But the arc is Metzger's alone: the hard-won serenity and desperations of an exemplary life. She's a poet who has faced contingency and lives in a world of final things--a deeply earned knowledge underpins this book, "that we should be met this way/that our appetitite/should be rewarded/with such grace....'
- Dennis Nurkse
This extraordinary collection of poems is written by a woman who has spent a lifetime travelling to the center of the unconscious. Deena Metzger enters the darkest of moments and always comes back singing. She is teacher and healer, she is both guide and woman warrior.
Ruin and Beauty is an extraordinary book. Here, Metzger listens to animals, trees, rocks, oceans--she has learned their language well. She converses with other poets. She walks with sorrow and joy as companions, over deserts, through thickets, woods, and fields.
I am awestruck by what she knows. This is a prayerbook, a long letter to the gods, a secret conversation with the animal kingdom. She is trying to save us all. The passion in these poems burns holes in my mind. Metzger opens the door through which a multitude can enter. If you follow her, you will be changed by this journey, but you will learn many secrets of the universe, and perhaps you will find hope for the future as well.
- Judith Minty
Red Hen Press, 9781597094252, 312pp.
Publication Date: June 1, 2009
About the Author
Deena Metzger is a poet, novelist, essayist, storyteller, teacher, healer and medicine woman who has taught and counseled for over forty years. She is the author of many books, including most recently, From Grief into Vision: A Council (Hand to Hand, 2007); Doors: A fiction for Jazz Horn (Red Hen Press, 2005); The Other Hand (Red Hen Press, 2000); and Tree: Essays and Pieces (North Atlantic Books, 1997).