Endless Life: Poems of the Mystics
Endless Life: Poems of the Mystics  -     By: Scott Cairns
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Endless Life: Poems of the Mystics

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Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 142
Vendor: Paraclete Press
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 1612615201
ISBN-13: 9781612615202

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Publisher's Description

From Saint Paul to Julian of Norwich, Scott Cairns has lovingly examined, pressed for for the revelation, and set in verse the most memorable, beautiful sayings of the fathers and mothers of Christianity. The startling result is a fresh encounter of ancient wisdom and provocation.

These poems are unified in a common claim that Love is the most compelling name of God and the most apt attribute of the Holy One in whom we live and move and have our being. In that spirit Cairns offers "a mere taste of the bountiful feast that awaits any who would pursue a life of faith and prayer equipped with both the holy Scriptures and the holy tradition that surrounds them."

Author Bio

Scott Cairns is the author of eight collections of poetry, The Theology of Doubt, The Translation of Babel, Figures for the Ghost, Recovered Body, Philokalia, Compass of Affection: Poems New & Selected, Idiot Psalms, and Slow Pilgrim: The Collected Poems. With W. Scott Olsen, he co-edited The Sacred Place, a collection of prose and verse celebrating the intersections of landscape and ideas of the holy. He wrote the libretti for The Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp, an oratorio composed by JAC Redford, and for A Melancholy Beauty, an oratorio composed by Georgi Andreev. His poetry and essays have been included in Best Spiritual Writing, Best American Spiritual Writing, The Pushcart Prize XXVI, Upholding Mystery (Oxford, 1997), The Best of Prairie Schooner, and Shadow & Light, among other anthologies. His work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Paris Review, The New Republic, Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion, Spiritus, Tiferet, Western Humanities Review, and many other journals. He has taught American literature, poetry writing, and poetics courses at Westminster College, University of North Texas, Old Dominion University, and at University of Missouri, where he is currently Professor of English. He also serves on the poetry faculty of the Seattle Pacific University low-residency MFA program in writing. In 1993, he founded the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, and served as its series editor from 1993 through 2006. In 2007, his spiritual memoir, Short Trip to the Edge, was published by HarperSanFrancisco and his translations and adaptations, Love's Immensity: Mystics on the Endless Life, was published by Paraclete Press; the paperback edition, Endless Life, was recently released, and a new, expanded edition of Short Trip to the Edge will be released in 2016. With Jeff Johnson and Roy Salmond, he recorded, Parable, a CD of recent poems. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006, and was named the Catherine Paine Middlebush Chair in English at the University of Missouri in 2009. He received the Denise Levertov Award in 2014.

Editorial Reviews

Scott Cairns (b. 1954), the Catherine Paine Middlebush Chair in English at the University of Missouri, has won numerous awards for his dozen of poetry, memoir, essays, and translations. This book was originally published as Love’s Immensity; Mystics on the Endless Life (2007). It includes 116 "adaptations and translations" (paraphrases?) of the writings of 37 Christian mystics. The selections are arranged chronologically, beginning with the apostle Paul, Irenaeus, Melito of Sardis, Origen, Athanasius, etc., and then concluding with St. Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897). Each figure is introduced with a short biographical blurb, but otherwise there’s no commentary.
Cairns converted to the Eastern Orthodox church from Protestantism a number of years ago, and in a short introduction he urges Protestants to reconsider sola scripture in favour of the importance of tradition in the formation of our faith. Many of the selections exemplify some of the Orthodox emphases, like the gift of tears, apophaticism, acedia, hesychasm, and theosis. There are many of the major figures that you’d expect, like Augustine, St. John of the Ladder, Eckhart, and John of the Cross, but also some lesser known saints like Blessed Angela of Foligno, Gertrude of Helfta, Richard Rolle of Hampole, Walter Hiton, and the Russian Nil Sorsky.
Cairns doesn’t define what constitutes the loaded term "mystic." And it would have been nice to know what text he was "adapting," so that a reader could return to the original. Still, these are minor quibbles. This is otherwise a rich treasure of Christian spirituality put to poetry. Among Cairns’ many other books, readers might also enjoy Idiot Psalms: New Poems (2014), a collection of 53 new poems; and Compass of Affection (2006), a collection of 85 poems from 1985 to 2006. —Journey With Jesus

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