LINDSAY CLARKE Foreword by Jules Cashford
In a verse sequence that swoops between wit and ancient wisdom, between the mystical and the mischievous, award-winning novelist Lindsay Clarke elucidates the trickster nature of Hermes, the messenger god of imagination, language, dreams, travel, theft, tweets, and trading floors, who is also the presiding deity of alchemy and the guide of souls into the otherworld. Taking a fresh look at some classical myths, this vivacious dance with Hermes choreographs ways in which, as an archetype of the poetic basis of mind, the sometimes disreputable god remains as provocative as ever in a world that worries – among other things – about losing its iPhone, what happens after death, online scams, and the perplexing condition of its soul.
A Dance with Hermes
POETRY / MYTHOLOGY
‘This is an impressive collection, with an ancient and perennial wisdom, and language that is modern, even “street-wise” without being cheap. I admire the range of contemporary reference; the “voice” of these poems suggests a real freedom of mind, and expresses a live imagination.’
‘Deft, witty, wing-footed – Lindsay Clarke’s poems wonderfully embody what they describe: the god Hermes, who is comprehensively shown to be just as revelatory and double-dealing in the digital age as he ever was in antiquity.’
'Clarke brings his considerable erudition and love of language to allow the intellectual and the poetic mind to come together, imagining where and how Hermes might be concealed in everyday life – the whisper in the inner ear, the sudden silence when "the air hangs watchful", or "the fitful flare that lights our way".'
'While the gods are alive, so are we, and while Hermes dances, no one can take over our imagination. Many thanks to ... Awen for making this life-affirming collection available from one of our great lyric masters of language.'
'Without being academic or arcane, Lindsay uncovers Hermes at work in the modern era through this series of 49 poems, the mere titles of which reveal mischief at work: "He Cocks a Snook at Nietzsche (and Philip Larkin)"’, "A PR Man Speaks Up" (very funny) and "He Giveth Tongue" ... it’s a long while since I’ve enjoyed a collection of poems as much as these.'
'Just as a bead of quicksilver will scatter in a thousand different directions, glittering and enticing you to follow their paths, so too will the ideas and images in this deceptively simple collection call you to follow the myriad directions of their dance ... Clarke’s collection of forty-nine poems transmits meanings on at least three levels. They begin as a biography of Hermes in three emanations: the older God of crossroads and fertility, proudly erect and worshipped by the Minoans and Mycenaeans as a god who "made things good;" by the Greeks as a son of Zeus; and as Hermes Trismegistus, the God of sacred writings revered by alchemists.'
'What a pleasure it is to read and smile and re-read these words ... flowing and funny and so unflinchingly pertinent ... Every page uncovers alchemical gold ... This book reminds me that poetry was my first love, when my childhood bedside table was never without Louis Untermeyer’s Golden Treasury of Poetry and when my dreams were filled with the Jabberwocky and the Highwayman. Perhaps poetry is the ultimate Hermetic tradition; the salve for our imagination? A Dance With Hermes certainly confirms as much.'
'The artist is an opener of doors and Lindsay Clarke’s hermetic sequence sketches for us images of gates and crossroads, gaps in landscape where the eye, itself a window to the soul, can reflect Janus-like upon the self through attention to intricacies of form in the natural world.'
Ian Brinton, Tears in the Fence
'Serving as a messenger for Hermes, the winged-footed messenger god of ancient Greece, Clarke brings his myths to life in the twenty-first century in this series of masterfully crafted verses ... In this subtle dance between the ancient and modern Clarke succeeds in his aim to show us that Hermes does not only reside in archaic myths, but is "dancing about us everywhere these days"’.'