The title sequence of The Erotics of God is a series of meditations on the theology of desire and the value of eroticism. Sebastian Barker stands in the tradition which includes Patrick Kavanagh, Blake, Bernard of Clairvaux, Origen, and The Song of Songs. He considers the immanence in sexual love of the beautiful and the sublime, the mortal and the sacred. In the second part, Spirit of the River, he sets art and friendship, which draw us towards 'the crazy colours of the sun', against 'the termite men', who drive us towards 'the abyss'. The Erotics of God is a stunning and original collection, which combines Barker's distinctive lyricism and scholarship with common sense and wit. It completes his visionary trilogy, Damnatio Memoriae: Erased from Memory (Enitharmon, 2004) and The Matter of Europe (Menard Press, 2005).
Erotic impulse speak to me
and be the poem's heart.
I want to know what you can see
within the sacred art.
Show me all the golden rules
to educate my eye.
Show me all the porno spools
I neither want nor why.
I'll speak if you will listen now
I have the upper hand.
I am the itch to love and how,
if you can understand.
I am the impulse to be free
within the source of bliss,
The impulse to be loved and stately,
Goodbye, my friends,
the sunset on the leaf,
The stars at night,
are time, the suttle theef.
The gorgeous trees
inspire the painters' blood,
rooted in the mud.
The wind within the abbey
five hundred years decay
Sounds with running water
where the flautists play.
The solemn river
swollen with the rain
Transports the tidy ducks
to northern Spain.
Goodbye, my friends,
I'm learning how to go
Where time runs down to silence
the full fantastic show.
For Peter Russell on his 75th birthday
'We've cast grace out of our life; that's what we lack.' (George Seferis)
I came to grace but grace came not to me
(the lone isles sleeping in the sea's unrest)
Elusive as the dawn now dawn has ceased to be.
O give me grace, I pray, but grace has long progressed.
Do not be trite, I plead, for grace is rare,
and I, though dark, her worthy courtier.
Silence, like music, now air that must contend
with all that is, is not, yet will be heard.
Easy to speak, they say. Not so, dear friend.
To speak is to carve and not to be absurd.
The night is always with us, and the day,
lit by the sun, in which we go astray.
No deed or thought so rich as that which brings
peace without frontiers to a poor man's son.
Get back in line, the argument is spring's:
I am the thought in which the deed is done.
Beyond the moon, colossal sparks in space
conceal the spark of all, incandescent grace.
What of it? Nothing. Guess. The room is still.
The light bulb's incandescence is an arch of thought
Through which we travel, the walls a miracle.
Even as the air we breathe is nothing bought.
My table, hewn from pine, offers you this clue:
my mind creates the shapes, the shapes are you.
'The Erotics of God continues Sebastian Barker's immensely thought-provoking and perilous pilgrimage through Western Philosophy, with the great thinkers of the past as his mentors and the reality of temporal power as the enemy... someone to engage with, argue with and enjoy.'
'This little book is vastly engaging... entrancing; ultimately enlightening and beautiful.'
'A brilliant and original voice.'
'A genuine and delicate poet.'
'lyricism, scholarship, common sense and wit'
'compelling humanity… beautiful and moving poems'