Book Review: A Way Less Travelled

A Way Less Travelled

Author: Adrian Rogers
2020. p. 64
ISBN: 978 1 76041 884 7
Publisher: Ginninderra Press, Port Adelaide, Australia

Reviewed by Robert Maddox-Harle

I am delighted to have the privilege of reviewing Adrian Rogers latest collection of poems, A Way Less Travelled. There are forty-three poems arranged in four parts as follows: Part 1 – The Way is Hard, But Blake Understands. Part 2 – Goodbye Blake, More Toil Ahead. Part 3 – After the Last Post. Part 4 – There is a River.

Robert Maddox-Harle
From the back cover: “[this book] features different ways of looking at the world around us, and the actions of people trying to see everyday things in a different light. It is inspired by the poetry and paintings of William Blake, sharing his spiritual focus on the symbolism of Jerusalem, and expressing a concern for justice and world peace.”

To refresh reader’s memories William Blake was a brilliant English painter and mystic, together with being an exceptional poet of the Romantic era. Many master poets, along with Rogers, have been inspired by Blake including Wordsworth, Ginsberg, Ruskin and W.B. Yeats. As with Blake, Rogers’ poetry has mystical and ineffable elements which makes writing a review rather difficult – to write logically about ineffable matters is a contradiction in terms, however I will try.

Adrian Rogers
All great poetry takes the reader out of themselves to ‘difficult-to-describe’ places, this is one of the most enjoyable features of Rogers’ poetry, most of his poems transport me to these places. His use of subtle imagery, metaphor and reference to ‘special’ historical places (such as Jerusalem) create a feeling that is beyond day-to-day experience and existence.

The last lines from, The Cave – A Mithraic Refuge (p. 28)

the matter of pilgrimage, reaping and sowing,
reckoning and resolving,

A north slope cave mouth is a hill’s dark stain,
potentially a resting place for limitlessness

in contemplation, temporal relief from the pain
of inward burning, freed consciousness

rebirth illumined into mindfulness.

Whether talking about a cave or The Wailing Wall, Rogers imbues these physical structures with mystical elements. From Blake’s 1st Vision – The Wailing Wall, the first verse (p.11)

Peace, be the dove
hovering above the wall
of stone-embedded prayers
of a universal temple unfinished

A universal temple unfinished is the best description of the Wall I can imagine, it is a sacred place, the only remains of the Second Temple of Jerusalem, held to be uniquely holy by the ancient Jews.

World peace is never far from Rogers’ thoughts, he expresses concerns for this subtly and metaphorically, and directly such as in the wonderful poem After Passing – Blake Brings Light and Peace (p. 29) which I will quote in full:

Jerusalem of many vistas
choose not the warrior’s way,
the Pleiades – for light and peace
sweet influences

mark how the confluences
of holy and material things release
from a miscarriage of regret
the aching hearts of exiles
returning, treading with lightness
their stone studded, praying miles

heeding not the logical wiles of reason, when petitions
at the Wailing Wall
stall not in offering; calling
as the prophets say for futures
consecrated to war’s decease.

Brother, sister, be at peace,
let the marriage feast begin.

And then subtly in Blake’s 6th Vision – The Temple of Humanity
the last four lines; (p. 21)

Approach me in love
along the star path, brother, sister,
be builders in peace
under the sign of the dove.

Rogers’ poems need to be read without noisy distractions, and possibly a number of times as they often have hidden meanings, oblique references and arcane references. I believe the effort of slow, careful reading will be most rewarding. Rogers’ poetry is technically Free Verse, this does not mean ‘free-for-all’, good free verse has as much control and ‘flow’ as any of the metrical types. His poetry has a subtle musicality which makes it a pleasure to read, either to oneself or aloud. As an example the first few lines of Oasis (p. 33)

Heat shapes forming along a desert track
and shimmering-dancing
mirage enhancing,
a bacchanalian corps de ballet’s
riotously silent non-event

It is interesting to note that contrary to what one might think, poetry, both reading others’ works and writing new poetry seems to be witnessing a resurgence. I have thought about the reason for this and all I can suggest is that the internet and relentless impingement of technology, a rather cold, unemotional phenomenon, leaves people starving for subtle, emotional satisfaction. Adrian Rogers’ poetry brings mystery and gentle emotional fulfilment almost in every line. Consequently this takes the reader away from the fast paced, brutal materialist society we have created and brings some much needed respite.

This book will be a wonderful addition to all poetry lovers bookshelves, yes some of us still have these and love books in and of themselves. Further, I believe it is essential reading for all students and unestablished poets. The formal poetic characteristics of Roger’s poetry are too many to list here, but by osmosis, careful reading of his work will help make all poets more professional in their craft.

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