Brian Patten's poetry resonates with a lyricism that pulls at the reader's heart with piercing illumination. His poems explore the great theme of love and all its various manifestations with a profundity that is accessible; enlightening our understanding as his grasp of the rhythmical pulse flows into our consciousness.
What makes Patten such a fine craftsman of his art is his ability to distil powerful and complex emotions in a language that sings, unencumbered like a stream, that is by turns uplifting (when celebrating the joy of love) and trenchant (when exploring the woe of love). Patten's popularity stems from the not insignificant fact that the language he deploys is approachable not abstruse; free-flowing not tangled; richly metaphorical without being overtly metaphysical. The pith of his poetry (and this is true for all great poetry) is in the language and reading this collection each reader will discover for him/herself a vocabulary that speaks about an aspect of love which will reverberate with their feelings.
Above all, this is a collection that praises love but doesn't shy away from interrogating how it can madden, frustrate, sadden, pain, maim, even strangle us at times. Love is the essence of living. Without it, to quote Lear, "Man's life's as cheap as beast's". We need it just as much as we need oxygen, shelter and water, "to love is the one common miracle." When we discover love, is there anything purer than can shield us from the vicissitudes of life? Anything more potent to withstand the chains of torment and arrows of doubt that can afflict the soul? Love is the great redeemer. As this peerless poet says in one of his many poems that merit re-reading And Doubt Shall Not Make An End Of You, "we have translated each other into love and into light go streaming."
Collected Love Poems is a treasure-trove for anyone who loves poetry and a cache of wisdom for anyone who has ever fallen in love, fallen out of love, been flamed by love, been flayed by love and/or is simply in love with the idea of love as a crystalline force that makes this life so crazily beautiful. The main delight is that this collection is permeated with a lyrical eloquence and phrasal pulchritude that fires the mind, stirs the heart and will make one become more aware of the multidimensional jewel that is love, afresh.