PoetryReviews.ca

Wolsak and Wynn - July 15, 2006 - 2 Comments

Worthy of His Fall

Worthy of His Fall by Richard Harrison

Reviewed by Liam Ford

Like the kukri knife that adorns its cover, the poems of Worthy of His Fall by Richard Harrison are keen, precise, and dangerous.  His political poems are not meant to be, nor are they, beautiful: “This is a political poem, so / don’t expect beauty” (“Warnography” 1-2).  Unfortunately, the political poems make unwieldy weapons.  They entrench themselves in the language of the war on terror, name-dropping Bush and Rumsfeld, bin Laden and Hussein.  The language, to use Di Brandt’s words (from the back cover) to refute her own comments, is “militant patriarchal monotheism.”

The speaker attempts to reconcile modern ideas of fatherhood with what he learned from his own father.  In “Song for the Lesser Giant,” he quotes his daughter singing “a song of all things / missing their essential parts” (2-3).  At the end, he chooses to italicize “a father without the yell” (33) as if to emphasize that he cannot conceive of being a father without raising his voice.  The voice of the speaker’s father also appears in other poems, at one point informing the reader that “Anyone who marches is an army.”  In the poem of the same title, the speaker describes a “father on TV pointing / towards his bombed-out house” who, despite

all the terms
this man could choose to send his message
to what remains of the world as he passes
before its bottled eye, he chooses the political.
(29-30, 32-35)

The speaker seems to criticize the father on TV for choosing the political, but is guilty of the same sin, adopting the language of conflict, opposition and war from his own father.  The “militant patriarchalism” of the political poems is the downfall of this volume.

It is in the non-political poems, those about fatherhood, love, and spirituality, where the book, like the knife — “Notched at the hilt / where the priest had let the sacred in” (“On My Father’s Hands” 24-25) — is to be seen as something unique and extraordinary, to be exalted.  As much as the speaker, in various poems, wrangles over the role of the father, the meaning of faith, the inability of words to truly capture what they describe, he finds certainty in the indestructible elements of life — birth, love, death.  In “Heaven,” the speaker imagines his father in the bath,  “alone and naked / in the water, ready for his heaven” (9-11).  Whether heaven exists or not, whether his father lived rightly or not, is unimportant.  The poet boldly creates heaven with his hand, and into it he allows his father to slip. 

Harrison reveals beauty in death and we understand there are some things that can only be captured in words, and in times of war it is in the sanctuary of these words — love, faith, heaven — that we find whatever solace we can.

Liam Ford lives in Coquitlam, BC.

Add a Comment

Name:

Email:

Remember my personal information.
Notify me of follow-up comments?

We don't know if you're a human. Confirm below:

Jack and Jill went up the...? (4 character(s) required)

  • it’s really great that your website has so much interesting stuff to read. Come visit mine: flexa plus
    said TomD on May 02, 2016
    about The Crisp Day Closing on My Hand: The Poetry of M. Travis Lane edited by Jeanette Lynes
  • It’s a nice and very informative website and post too.You can benefited all others cosmetica industries as well. cosmetica groothandel …
    said acosmetica groothandel on January 02, 2016
    about Pendas Productions
  • Very very thanks for like this poetry.I am proud after looked on poetry.Ian LeTourneau’s reviewed poetry have given me many many …
    said cosmetica groothandel on December 30, 2015
    about The Crisp Day Closing on My Hand: The Poetry of M. Travis Lane edited by Jeanette Lynes
  • Wow it’s a hots poetry.So I lov,like this poetry.My need knowledge,which I have taken from The Mechanical Bird, Asa Boxer’s. cosmetica …
    said cosmetica groothandel on December 30, 2015
    about The Mechanical Bird by Asa Boxer
  • Wow what’s a nice poetry.I love like this poetry.I have read it and take some knowledge from Stone Sightings,Madeline Sonik. cosmetica …
    said cosmetica groothandel on December 30, 2015
    about Stone Sightings by Madeline Sonik
  • I am really happy After got this blog.g We seen abriel’s beach by the Neal McLeod. cosmetica groothandel
    said cosmetica groothandel on December 30, 2015
    about Gabriel’s Beach by Neal McLeod
  • I learn a lesson from you that ladies can do all the thing. cosmetica groothandel
    said acosmetica groothandel on December 28, 2015
    about Lady Godiva and Me by Liam Guilar
  • I love to hear always about MJ.In my life I wanted to be like MJ but I did not understand that …
    said Niamal Wakil on December 24, 2015
    about The Meaning of Michael Jackson
  • You made a most important point about poet.Without spectra poet has nothing.You may follow this link cosmetica grothandel for any cosmetic. …
    said Niamal Wakil on December 20, 2015
    about Nerve Language by Brian Henderson
  • After reading post I have read the poem of Gillian Sze.I feel the hit of this poet.It is really awesome that …
    said Niamal Wakil on December 17, 2015
    about Fish Bones by Gillian Sze