By: Susan Weiner Publisher: Belle Isle Books Publication Date: February 2020 ISBN: 978-1947860452 Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott Date: May 29, 2020
Classical, natural and heartfelt imagery combine in this collection of poems by scholar and dedicated Christian Susan Weiner.
Weiner’s book examines our world before, during and after the advent of Jesus, from a multitude of perspectives. The opening piece, “Cinnamon and Myrrh,” celebrates the effect of love in the poet’s innermost being:
Your love, the center stone of my heart Of blood and breath has joined each part.
Four poems sharing the title Parthian Wine recall the glories of the Middle East in the early Christian era, contrasting God’s love with earthly pastimes and pleasures:
Sweeter than the honey of an Ephesian bee... As luminous as the Colossus of Rhodes... Your love is stronger than a gladiator’s sword... For oh, so much sweeter than dates and figs...
In another grouping, “Pater Mendaciorum,” Weiner characterizes Satan and his evil works: Mine is the kingdom of the asp/the well of poison at the heart of every wasp.
The notable feature of Weiner’s artistry is her rich vocabulary and sure knowledge of ancient symbols and historic events. She has woven her sense of the time of Jesus’s birth and life story with medieval language and the format of hymns and even a trilogy of lullabies. One offering, “I Am True,” rings out like a powerful paean to God’s care for his created beings, with its repeated refrain ending in the stirring words: No matter how far you fall, I will be true.
Weiner is a student of history and literature whose brief author information states that “her love of God informed this book.” The volume is small, so could be carried in a purse or pocket for reference and sharing. It features pleasant graphics - a thick, vellum-like page appearance and colorful, tasteful decorations gracing each poem.
Quill says:Before the Foundation of the Worldwould make an appealing focus in several realms of group study, from workshops exploring the Bible and biblical history, to instruction in poetry and the finer points of its construction. And Weiner’s gentle, sincere message regarding the scope and nature of God’s love will engage intelligent Christians and those new to, or just discovering, the faith life.