Whatsoever Things Are Lovely by Helen Sutton Booth

Copyright 1972
Checked out 26 times in 38 years
Last checked out 4 years ago

Circulation shows this is a popular book. Most of the poems make reference to God or Christ, making this a book of religious poetry. But the poet has a keen sense of the physical world and clearly loves the change of seasons, celebrating them with a variety of poems rich in natural imagery.

I enjoyed this poem offering a different perspective on tax day, titled “In Praise of April 15th:”

Who would declare a single loss
when everywhere we see
the season’s promises fulfilled
in bush and flowering tree?

Who counts deductions on a day
the flaunting daffodil
and spirals of forsythia
spill gold upon a hill?

And who can estimate the cost
of gifts received this year
or needs to count the violets
and stars as they appear?

Poets rarely touch on financial concepts or terms, so it always catches my attention when one does.

I found her poem “Mill Town” haunting. It’s reminiscent of Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, yet booth gives innocence the upper hand by transforming poverty with a sense of wonder. However, that transformation is disturbing. We wonder if the children will ever understand their plight and thus escape it. Here is the second (last) stanza:

Children who see no sunlit days
nor quiet beauty of clear night
at dusk when mill fires sweep the skies
watch them burn in wild delight.

These two exerpts are not typical. Here is one that is:

God of the Seasons, whose power controls all Nature,
teach us to await patiently the fulfillment of Thy law.

I much prefer the prior two. But the library patrons have given this book their vote of confidence over the many years. It is religious poetry and it’s also full of the imagery of rural life, so it’s an appropriate book for the Albertville library.


About jppoetryreader

Poetry reviewer and poetry consultant for libraries
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