As I am interested in poetry, I got this bargain recently, having read excerpts of the poetry in the news when it first came out. This USA edition (2003) is beautifully presented; with cover illustration of John Paul II strolling in the countryside, further illustrations inside are all from Michelangelo's works, in keeping with the Pope's admiration for this 16th century artist. The poetic work is in three "Panels", each preceded by an excerpt from the original Polish manuscript, and in the hand writing of John Paul II. Each panel conveys the nearness of faith felt in Nature in a different way. Though deeply philosophical, and steeped in theology and biblical history, the poetry shows a lyricism which can be accesible to all. This translation does justice to the poetry of John Paul II and the work is enhanced by a presentation by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger,who is now Pope Benedict XVI.
This poetic work shows the soul of the pope in a great artistic way. Most do not realise that prior to and during his time as a priest in Poland, the man who was to become Pope John Paul II was in fact a writer and thespian of some skill. Near the end of his eventful life, he undertook to write some poetry that would capture his theology, his sense of life, and his hope for the future. This is a very short book, a mere 40 pages of text, but the words are moving and meaningful. The pope writes in a style that is vivid and descriptive; he uses settings from his childhood and time in Poland, biblical images, as well as things he has seen as pope to fill the verse with pictures that the reader can also enjoy and participate in seeing. Beyond the descriptive elements, the pope incorporates his own pastoral and theological sense, turning his reflections both outward to the world, as well as reflexively back upon his own experiences, in some ways drawing his pontificate to a close in verse, fastening on to the idea that none of us starts in a vacuum, and our influence, with God's help, remains strong and secure into the future. A grand offering from a remarkable man, this small poetic offering gives insight into the soul of the man, the priest, the pope, the world figure, that no theological treatise or journalistic interview could ever do.
The book was in excellent condition. What made it extra special was the inclusion of the poems in the handwriting and national tongue of John Paul 2. The poems are amazing when first read but with further more thoughtful pondering they open up a new way of thinking and perceiving.