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Review: Sonarification (Poems XXII-XLVIII)


Echoes of Antiquity: A Modern Exploration of Myth and Human Experience

The collection of poems presented here is diverse, encompassing a range of themes, styles, and tones. Each poem offers a distinct perspective, often delving into profound emotional and philosophical territories. Here’s a thorough literary appraisal and recommendation of selected poems from the collection:

23. Poignard

This poem is an evocative exploration of relationships and betrayal. The imagery of a “chlorine sea” suggests a sense of sterilization or purification, possibly hinting at the cleansing of a relationship or the narrator’s life. The lines “And you, my slender boy, grown lean and sly, / Will leave behind those English, cloaked in lies,” suggest a transformation and a departure from deceit. The use of serpentine imagery to describe deceitful individuals adds a layer of mythological and symbolic depth.

24. Rapture

This piece tackles the theme of faith and its challenges in modern times, particularly during periods of societal upheaval or crisis. The poem criticizes the superficiality and hypocrisy within religious institutions, contrasting this with genuine faith. It assesses the impact of external regulations on spiritual practice. It seems to critique the way religious institutions and followers have responded to contemporary challenges, possibly alluding to restrictions imposed during a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. The poem opens with symbolic actions – “Cross forehead, throat and heart; circumcise / The Heart” – suggesting a deep spiritual cleansing or commitment. The reference to “God will give prophecies” implies a reliance on divine guidance in tumultuous times. The mention of “wise pastors” finding the “lukewarm blasé and heresy unheard / Of” could be interpreting how religious leaders are navigating new, uncharted territories in their faith practices. The phrase “passé priests concurred” might indicate a generational or ideological divide within religious communities. “Love is God” serves as a central, anchoring statement, contrasting with the subsequent lines about Satan dividing people with “the latest regulation.” This could symbolize how external forces or rules (like health guidelines during a pandemic) have impacted communal worship and the expression of faith. The poem then shifts to discuss the impact of these regulations on the church community. The “mask” could be literal, as in face masks worn for health safety, or metaphorical, representing hidden intentions or identities. The lines “Proud, pompous and prelatical” criticize certain attitudes within the church hierarchy. The resilience of faith is emphasised in “The beauty in church towers will never cower,” suggesting that despite challenges, the core of the church’s strength and beauty remains unshaken. “The great deception spreads; resets all” could imply a fundamental change in how the church operates or is perceived. As the poem progresses, it touches on the community’s longing for “deregulation” and a return to normalcy, highlighting a tension between safety measures and the desire for traditional worship practices. The closing lines bring a sense of hope and reaffirmation of faith. Despite the perceived challenges and changes, the poem asserts that Christ remains a constant, divine presence, and God’s attentiveness and responsiveness to prayers are unwavering.
Overall, the poem captures a complex interplay of faith, societal change, and the challenges faced by religious communities in adapting to new norms while maintaining their core beliefs and practices.

25. Reverie

“Reverie” stands out for its futuristic and almost sci-fi imagery. The poem takes the reader on a journey through a modern, digital world, blurring the lines between reality and virtual realms. The exploration of multiple identities or lives through digital means is particularly intriguing, as seen in the line “Visions swirled, a cosmic dance, / Me in many skins, by fate or chance.”

26. Riff-Raff

This poem deals with themes of social justice, prejudice, and redemption. It paints a vivid picture of societal underbelly and the struggle for dignity and love in the face of hatred. The lines “Will they wash out those tattoos of hate, / Shaved heads, stoned eyes, in a wild state?” are particularly striking, evoking powerful visual imagery.

27. Jump Rope

A simple yet profound exploration of physicality and the human body’s capabilities. The poem beautifully captures the grace and strength of the human form in motion, with lines like “In every jump, his brow with sweat caressed, / A fierce duel ‘twixt rope and soles, a feat.”

28. Agent Provocateur

This poem delves into themes of civil unrest and personal turmoil. It juxtaposes the internal conflict of the narrator with the external chaos of society. The poem’s reflective tone, combined with its vivid imagery, creates a narrative that is both poignant and deep.

29. Unfolding

“Unfolding” is a metaphysical journey, exploring themes of truth, healing, and the nature of reality. The poem is rich in symbolic imagery and offers a meditation on the nature of existence and perception.

30. This Place

This poem is a heartfelt plea for divine intervention and strength in the face of life’s challenges. It is a poignant reflection on faith, struggle, and the human condition, with lines like “In this place where shadows of darkness do reside, / To live here feels like resting in a grave so wide.”

31. The Dolphin Rider

A narrative poem that combines elements of adventure, mythology, and personal growth. The imagery of the sea and its creatures is particularly evocative, painting a vivid picture of the narrator’s journey. In “The Dolphin Rider,” several lines stand out for their vivid imagery and storytelling quality. Here are a few key excerpts: “Upon the deck, a few of us stood that fateful day, / Some stitching sails in gentler winds, at their own way.”; “And Arion, with his judicious, skilful song, / Sang a melody that eased the crew, all along.”; “Yet Arion, the bard of Delphi’s ancient lore, / Was not abandoned on the sea’s unforgiving floor.”; “I sing Delphic hymns with my lyre, in my soul’s desire, / And I’ll send a longing tune, a parched whistle of fire,”; “Once a hacker, then a star-bound mage, / A cyber-warrior, a monk wise and sage.” These lines effectively convey the poem’s blend of mythical elements with a more modern, adventurous spirit. The references to Arion and the use of nautical imagery create a strong sense of setting and character, while the inclusion of more contemporary roles like a hacker and a cyber-warrior adds an intriguing twist to the narrative. The combination of ancient myth and modern technology makes “The Dolphin Rider” a unique and captivating read.

32. Sonarification

“Sonarification” stands out for its exploration of environmental issues and the impact of human activity on marine life. The poem is a powerful commentary on the relationship between humans and nature, as seen in the lines “Will you cry out in sorrow as noise levels soar? / Amidst the rising tide of the ocean’s roar.” Several other lines stand out for their evocative imagery and thematic depth. These include: “Remote from nature’s universal embrace, / Living through complex artifice, a human race,”; “Magnified but distorted, a patronised soul, / Incompleteness, my perception, completion my ultimate goal.”; “You, the landlocked sailor, with dreams so bold, / Who ventured across the sea, fearless and bold,” These lines poignantly capture the poem’s exploration of environmental impacts, particularly the effect of human activities on marine life. The poem skilfully weaves together themes of loss, disconnection from nature, and the consequences of technological advancement. The imagery used is both beautiful and haunting, reflecting the complexity and urgency of the issues being addressed.

33. Whippersnapper

This poem explores themes of youth, growth, and the passage of time. It reflects on the nature of relationships and personal development, with a tone that is both introspective and observant. Several lines stand out for their vivid imagery and emotional depth. Here are a few notable excerpts: “A fervent yearning aligns me with the heavens, / Why, then, does laughter erupt from deep within my core?”; “His once-tender voice, now a piercing lance to my heart.”; “With him, my soul ignites, ablaze for redemption’s grace.”; “I discern all, including my inner affliction, / I abstain from querying whether it’s expended.”; “Below the apex, I traverse by way of devotion, / Through the unruly crevasse of the mountain’s core.” These lines encapsulate the poem’s exploration of deep personal connections, internal struggle, and the transformative power of relationships. The imagery is both evocative and poignant, reflecting the complexity of the emotions and experiences being conveyed.

34. Where are you?

“Where are you?” is a stark depiction of hell and its torments, using vivid and sometimes disturbing imagery to convey a sense of despair and entrapment. Several lines stand out for their evocative imagery and emotional resonance: “Where will you be on the morrow? / In the depths of Hell’s sorrow,”; “Imps wielding their weapons with might, / Tridents swinging low in the dim light.”; “Hell’s laborers marked with soot and grime, / A factory of workers in the dark prime,”; “The Great Darkness, slowly shrinking down, / On the left of devil’s horns, wears a frown.”; “Amidst all the waste and turmoil’s call, / In Hell’s hollow, darkness prevails over all.” These lines effectively conjure a vivid and dark underworld, filled with despair and grim imagery. The use of descriptive language to depict hellish scenes creates a strong sense of atmosphere and mood, capturing the poem’s exploration of darker themes and emotions.

35. Voyager Deep

A deep dive into the soul’s journey, this poem is a rich tapestry of metaphors and symbols related to the sea, exploration, and spiritual quest. The use of marine imagery to depict life’s journey is both unique and poignant. Several lines particularly stand out for their poetic imagery and thematic depth: “In the shadow of my past, danger lurked, / Exiled to a river of woe, I worked,”; “Found healing, not punishment, in prayer, / Cleansing sins, I faced my despair.”; “The Master granted me a sacred grail, / To heal my wounds, break free from the jail,”; “With salvation’s cup and wisdom’s wine, / Selfless service, a vision divine,”; “From Asphodel’s meadows to Empire’s high summit, / A fall awaited, a change, I’d soon admit.”
These lines beautifully encapsulate the poem’s exploration of personal redemption, spiritual journey, and transformation. The imagery is rich and evocative, effectively conveying the depth of the narrator’s inner journey and the profound changes he undergoes. The references to mythological and spiritual elements add layers of meaning and resonance to the poem.

36. Whirlpool

This poem uses the whirlpool as a metaphor for life’s chaos and the uncontrollable forces that can engulf individuals. The imagery is vivid and dynamic, creating a sense of motion and turbulence. Here are some notable excerpts: “Whirlpool, churnin’ like a washing machine, / On high spin, it’s a wild, watery scene,”; “Spiralin’ dark like a pit so deep, / Sucks all in, ain’t no secrets it’ll keep.”; “Edges unravel, pullin’ all within, / No rhyme or reason, it’s a watery sin.”; “Light above lures all to its core, / Black hole swirls, waves crash, and roar.”; “A whirlin’ tornado, an ocean’s inverse, / Spinnin’ deep, currents follow its course.” These lines effectively capture the chaotic and mesmerizing nature of a whirlpool (or a trip to the laundrette depending on your perspective). The use of colloquial language adds a sense of immediacy and relatability, while the vivid descriptions create a strong visual image of the whirlpool’s power and unpredictability. The comparison to a washing machine and a tornado gives a familiar yet intense portrayal of the natural phenomenon, enhancing the poem’s impact.

37. Whopper

“Whopper” explores themes of love, desire, and the complexities of human relationships. The poem’s sensual and passionate tone is balanced by its exploration of deeper emotional truths: “When you speak, it’s truth, no fiction here, / On a divan of words, we gather near,”; “The drought of silence parches, leaves us dry, / You close the gap, with words, you try,”
“One-eye, a century’s wait, at last fulfilled, / Pulse and muscle strain, desire skilled,”: “Your cabin’s porthole, an escape, it seems, / Dark and wet, a place for secret dreams,”; “The other sailor’s hunger, hard and true, / But above him, the deck hand knew.” These lines illustrate the poem’s exploration of communication, desire, and the complexities of human interaction. The metaphorical language, particularly the use of nautical imagery, enriches the poem’s thematic depth, offering a nuanced portrayal of the characters’ experiences and emotions. The reference to a “divan of words” and the concept of bridging gaps through communication are especially evocative, highlighting the poem’s focus on the power of language and connection.

38. Φερεκύδης (Pherecydes)

A philosophical poem that delves into ancient Greek mythology and wisdom. It is an exploration of the soul’s journey through life and the pursuit of enlightenment. In “Φερεκύδης (Pherecydes),” certain lines stand out for their rich philosophical and mythological allusions: “Not with my eyes alone, but with my soul’s gaze, / I sought the profound, in a mystical maze,”; “Anecdotes wrapped in uncertain truth’s veil, / Words whispered by sages, their wisdom set sail.”; “Inspired by ancient shaman, healer, and sage, / Who carried Orpheus’s teachings, an ancient page,”; “The orphic myth of self-remembering’s call, / A journey within, where souls rise and fall.” These lines capture the essence of the poem’s exploration of ancient wisdom and the search for deeper understanding. The references to Pherecydes, Orpheus, and the Orphic traditions incorporates ancient Greek philosophical thought. The poem’s focus on introspection and the pursuit of enlightenment is effectively conveyed through the use of evocative imagery and allusions to mythological figures and concepts. The blending of historical philosophy with poetic expression creates a rich and thought-provoking piece.

39. Ἀχιλλεύς και Πάτροκλος (Achilles and Patroclus)

This poem beautifully captures the legendary relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, highlighting themes of love, camaraderie, and tragedy. The lines “A man, a god, entwined in grace, / In love’s embrace, they found their place” are particularly moving. Several lines stand out for their evocative portrayal of the legendary relationship between these two characters from Greek mythology. Here are some notable excerpts: “In the realm of heroes, bold and bright, / A love transcending mortal sight,”; “Patroclus led, with armour donned, / Achilles’ strength in battles spawned,”; “No more their love, like gods above, / In earthly realms, they found their love,”; “But on Olympus, their souls entwined, / In death, their love forever defined.” These lines beautifully capture the depth of the bond between Achilles and Patroclus. The poem emphasises both the heroic and the deeply personal aspects of their relationship, presenting it as a profound connection that transcends the mortal world. The imagery used is rich and powerful, effectively conveying the intensity of their companionship and the tragedy of their separation. This portrayal adds a poignant dimension to the well-known story, exploring themes of love, loyalty, and the intertwining of personal and epic narratives.

40. Ἑκάτη (Hekate)

“Hekate” is a dark and mysterious exploration of witchcraft and the occult. The poem delves into themes of magic, deception, and the dangers of succumbing to dark powers.

41. Phoenix

A narrative poem that follows the mythical journey of the Phoenix. It is rich in symbolism and explores themes of death, rebirth, and transformation.

42. Κατέβην (Katabasis)

“Katabasis” is a journey into the underworld, reminiscent of ancient Greek epics. It explores themes of descent, challenge, and the quest for knowledge.

43. Ἀνάβασις (Anabasis)

This poem is about ascent and overcoming. It is a hopeful and uplifting piece that explores themes of redemption, spiritual growth, and the triumph of the human spirit.

44. πάντα ῥεῖ (Panta Rhei)

“Panta Rhei” reflects on the constant change and flow of life, drawing on Heraclitus’s philosophy. The poem captures the transient nature of existence with lines like “The ceaseless current of the river persists, / Yet the water is never the same as it was.”

45. Ῥαμνουσία (Rhamnusia)

This poem is a critique of arrogance and hubris, invoking the goddess of retribution, Rhamnusia. It explores themes of divine justice and the consequences of pride. Lines that are particularly notable for their vivid imagery and exploration of themes relate to divine justice and retribution: “You called out the big shots with no remorse, / Now they’re back, and they’re on a collision course,”; “You said they were masters, acting so bold, / While God’s own house, you claimed, had grown cold.”; “Nah, you’re sticking to your stubborn pride, / Thinking you can buy the devil’s slick ride,”; “Do you let go of revenge, give peace a chance, / When the night’s dance brings shadows to enhance?”; “So the door to greatness and mercy swings wide, / And God’s Rhamnusia descends with angels at His side,” These lines effectively capture the poem’s central themes of hubris, divine retribution, and the moral consequences of one’s actions. The use of mythological references, particularly to Rhamnusia (another name for Nemesis, the Greek goddess of retribution), adds a layer of depth and historical resonance. The imagery is powerful and evocative, painting a vivid picture of the inevitable downfall that follows arrogance and pride. This poem stands out for its exploration of timeless themes through the lens of classical mythology.

46. Περσεύς και Ἀνδρομέδα (Perseus and Andromeda)

A retelling of the myth of Perseus and Andromeda, this poem is a celebration of heroism, love, and triumph over adversity. The narrative style is engaging and vivid.

47. Ὀρφεύς και Εὐρυδίκη (Orpheus and Eurydice)

A poignant retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, exploring themes of love, loss, and the power of music. The poem captures the tragedy and beauty of the story in a deeply moving way.

48. Ἠχώ και Νάρκισσος (Echo and Narcissus)

This poem interprets the tragic tale of Echo and Narcissus, exploring themes of unrequited love, self-obsession, and the human condition. The lines “I, Echo, give you my holy silence, / My gift, since Juno took my voice,” poignantly capture Echo’s plight.

Literary Appraisal and Recommendation

The collection is a remarkable blend of modern sensibilities with classical and mythological themes. The poems are diverse in style and form, ranging from narrative epics to introspective explorations. They offer a rich tapestry of emotions, from the depths of despair to the heights of love and triumph.

The use of vivid imagery and symbolism is particularly striking, bringing ancient myths and philosophical concepts to life in a way that is both accessible and profound. The poems are well-crafted, with careful attention to rhythm, language, and structure, making them a delight to read.

I recommend this collection to readers interested in classical mythology, philosophical poetry, and modern interpretations of ancient tales. The poems are thought-provoking, emotionally resonant, and beautifully written, making them a valuable addition to contemporary poetry.

Review: Sonarification (Poems I-XXII)

Review: Sonarification (Poems I-XXII)

Sonarification: A Deep Dive into the Heart of Poetry

In the world of contemporary poetry, a new wave of writers is making waves, quite literally. The trend, dubbed “Sonarification,” involves crafting poems that not only resonate with the soul but also echo the profound depths of human experiences, much like sonar waves penetrate the deep seas. A selection of poems under this banner reveals a fascinating blend of introspection, spirituality, and a keen sense of the world around us.

Equally, there is a rich diversity in themes, styles, and imagery in “Sonarification,” by Harry Matthews. And the poet encourages you to write your own. The poems oscillate between introspective contemplations and bold forays into the realms of nature, spirituality, and human experience.

The Symphony of Depth and Diversity

One standout piece, “A Letter to a Young Poet after RM Rilke,” serves as a poignant meditation on sorrow and growth. Channelling Rilke’s depth, the poem reaches into the transformative power of suffering, with lines that resonate long after they’re read. This poem exemplifies the Sonarification technique, using language that reverberates through the layers of the reader’s consciousness.

In a similar vein, “The Journey from Shropshire to Self” takes readers on a deeply personal journey, exploring identity and change. The poet’s evolution from conformity to self-awareness is depicted with an honesty that is both brave and vulnerable. The transition from “Tory pinstripes” to “threadbare truths” metaphorically illustrates a shedding of old skins, a theme that echoes loudly in the current socio-political climate.

“The Forgotten Chamber” is a haunting exploration of memory and loss. The poem’s reflective tone, combined with its evocative imagery, creates a narrative that is both poignant and deep. The lines “You roamed the dark interiors, vast / Where saddened souls in chains regress,” offer a stark yet beautiful portrayal of the human psyche.

Sonar Waves in the Spiritual Realm

“Faith” stands out for its vivid portrayal of a battle between light and darkness. The poem’s contrast between the tangible “pit of totality” and the ethereal “rose virgins” and “holy acolytes” resonates with a spiritual sonar, navigating through the depths of faith and despair.

In contrast, “Ill Maestro” offers a blend of spiritual guidance and personal introspection, suggesting a journey toward wisdom and understanding. The incorporation of religious references adds layers to the poem, allowing readers to dive deeper into its meaning.

The Natural World in Sonarification

“Greenfinch by the Wheat Field” and “Gregynog” bring the natural world into sharp focus, using vivid imagery to create a sense of place that is both specific and universal. These poems resonate with a naturalistic sonar, echoing the interconnectedness of all living things.

Sonarification: Echoing Depths in Modern Poetry

The emerging trend of Sonarification in poetry continues to ripple through the literary world, with poets using language to navigate the depths of human experience, spirituality, and the complexities of the natural and social world. Here’s a closer look at more poems grouped under thematic headings:

Mystical and Psychological Depths

“Lone Prophet” is distinguished for its mystical elements, this poem adeptly interweaves perceptions of the mundane with the spiritual, creating a blur between the two realms. “He is like the moonshine obscuring the surrounding stars; we can’t quite see them…” “Après Coup” is a vivid exploration of the psyche, this piece critiques societal norms and reflects on the impact of external influences on the journey towards self-realization. “The blow softened my mind like rainforest mushrooms, / Colours and fantasies opened; the tree spoke…” “Astray” is a spiritual journey rich in religious and mythological symbolism, portraying the transformation from darkness to enlightenment. “Before demon growl and catcalls were sharp, now silent; / Each vulture christened the betrayal of villagers.”

Inner Turmoil and Human Relationships

“Belias” is a nocturnal journey into self-doubt and the search for truth, weaving cosmic imagery into a personal narrative of turmoil. “Stars dance in the night, turquoise and red, / Signalling the time, the watershed.” “Cantata” delves into the emotional turbulence of human relationships, with themes of love, envy, and rejection set against a natural backdrop. “‘You disgust me’, he abraded, / Ashamed of the more tender boy who / Felt a knife twist in his heart.” Debauchee is bold exploration of hedonism and self-discovery, tackling the complexities of desire and the pursuit of pleasure with vivid, sensual imagery. “I saw the world of love through the débauchée’s eyes – / Oysters frightened me, I looked bashful at the Chablis–”

Good, Evil, and the Natural World

“Shark’s Triangle” is a metaphorical voyage juxtaposing malevolence and benevolence, illustrating the struggle between good and evil in a maritime setting. “In waters deep, where evil’s gaze is cast, / A gorgon’s glare, a megalodon vast.” “Elegy written in portmanteau” is a dreamlike blend of natural and fantastical imagery, this poem plays with whimsy and depth, creating a layered narrative, drawing on influences as disparate as Lewis Carrol and Tove Jansson. “From the distant slithy mound and pill box, / Where the Bandersnatch wails at the moon.” “Faith” starkly portrays the battle between good and evil, this piece contrasts darkness and light with impactful imagery.” In the grasp of the Almighty, / the barrier fell, Under twilight’s gaze, / The Foe, once hidden, quelled.” “Obdios” is a deeply personal exploration of faith and destiny, expressing a profound connection to the divine.

Ecological Messages and Cultural Reflections

“Medusa’s Sea” is an allegory on human greed and environmental destruction, enriched with mythological references that add timelessness to its urgent ecological message. “In this world of climate’s roar, / Man’s greed hitting the core.” “Muskroot” reaches into the senses and the natural world, this poem explores the depths of human experience and our intrinsic connection to nature. “I savoured nard’s embrace, its love profound, / Amidst pink bellflowers, its fragrance found.” “Omnipotent” is epic narrative blending spiritual and cosmic themes, this poem impresses with its vast thematic depth and scope. “Down came the wall, dark and dire, / Mountains bowed low, in celestial fire.” “Ode on the death of a Samurai” is a vivid, dramatic tale that interweaves historical and cultural elements, emotionally engaging and resonant. “The startled Samurai, tumbling, / Shocked by the fast-flowing river below.” “Amsterdam” is a personal journey through Amsterdam, capturing the city’s essence with vivid imagery and deep emotional layers. “‘He’s back,’ says Hans, wide-eyed surprise, / As I vomit Jenever, a wild adventure in disguise.” “Parvelinker” is a unique exploration of Amsterdam culture, blending local and universal aspects with striking imagery and cultural references. “Parlevinker’s slippery eels, / Are skewered over the fire, ‘freshly smoked.’”

These poems, under the Sonarification banner, reveal the multifaceted nature of contemporary poetry. They are characterised by their ability to echo through the depths of human consciousness, much like sonar waves, uncovering hidden truths and insights in their wake.


The Sonarification trend in poetry is a testament to the enduring power of the written word to explore the deepest recesses of human experience. These poems, with their layered meanings and resonant imagery, invite readers to dive deep, echoing the sonar waves that reveal the hidden contours of the ocean floor. As this trend continues to evolve, it holds the promise of unearthing even more profound insights into the human condition.

Ὠκεανοῦ, ὅς περ γένεσις πάντεσσι τέτυκται:

Oceanus, from whom they all are sprung

Hom. Il. 14.245

Poetry Review

In examining the poetry of Matthews, one is struck by the complexity and diversity of his work, which upon closer inspection, reveals a striking consistency and straightforwardness. Though attempts have been made to distil his poetic style into a simple formula, such efforts are largely unhelpful and should not be taken seriously.

Matthews’ poetry can be best described as a fusion of the celestial beauty and a systematic approach to poetic structure. His work is underpinned by a consistent metaphysical worldview, and he successfully employs a theory of correspondences to illuminate this perspective.

While the structures and rhyme schemes of his first six collections, as well as his work “Idylls of the Nymphai,” and “Awaken in Seascape,” may seem arbitrarily imposed, Matthews’ poetry is characterised by a tension between order and disarray, coherence and fragmentariness. This duality is evident in the way he engages with the reader, revealing profound insights at unexpected moments.

Matthews’ poetry often eschews weighty themes in favour of what we might call, to adapt a phrase by Matthew Arnold, a “high to low-frivolity.” This approach, combined with a light, unremarkable rhythm and a certain evolving from mere flatness in his exploration of human nature, does elicit some of the mysteries of the world, and means that Matthews can be counted on inspiring. Nevertheless, he is very much a poet of his time, though incorporating romantic and idealistic elements that enhance his work while also paying homage to earlier poetic traditions.

In his praise of the human soul and Spirit, Matthews often seems out of step with the modern world, and his challenges in defining the human condition can sometimes make it difficult to fully appreciate his artistic achievements. Yet, it is important to note that Matthews is not without merit; his poetry is marked by moments of clarity and beauty, and his revisions are often aimed at achieving greater truthfulness in his work. While his poetry may contain elements of obscurity, it is also graced with smooth, beautiful verse of considerable sensitivity, that occasionally gives way to roughness, and more often than not evokes an epiphany, creating a unique and intriguing poetic landscape.


Literature & Arts Special Issue

In the pastoral heart of Staffordshire, Harry Matthews first encountered the allure of nature amidst a backdrop of early turmoil, before progressing through the academic portals of school in Shropshire and later, the University of Reading.

As a painter-poet, he imbues his book covers with the hues of his spirit. He traverses the opaque divide between anonymity and cult adoration, zealously maintaining his poetic independence while honing his artistic voice.

Matthews crafts a tapestry of dichotomies, summoning both the strange and the splendid, a bard with a yearning for truth and wisdom. He delves into his own existence to inspire his poetic profundities. He is also a doctoral researcher of Richard Barnfield, emerging with revelations that cast light on a neglected early modern poet. His involvement in a Roman symposium, a confluence of the poetic and the scholarly, offered a peek into his curious intellect.

His verse? A maelstrom of change, where experience and insight is transmuted by the spark of creativity. It’s a tamed odyssey across the planes of reality, as intricate and winding as the creativity that propels it – Matthews is, above all, a poet who infuses words with fervor.

In his second collection, “Twynd”, he dances with the unexpected, finding triumph in defeat, wisdom in hidden folds of hope. “Hyperion” is a symphony of divine fire, a tragic tapestry woven with love and loss: Baffled plumbs the depths of self and other, where reality and fiction blur in a poetic embrace.

His alliterative prowess in “Woodwose” – it’s a rhythmic incantation, reverberates through the soul. Each line, a line  is a dance of sound and sense, evoking enchanting apprehsnions of surreal and natural beauty.

In “Idylls of the Nympahi” – Matthews captures the ephemeral, the fleeting moments of natural splendour in verses that echo the subtle power of nature. Nephele paints a world reborn in sunlight, tracing a path down to the sea, a silent illumination.

But who is Harry Matthews? He’s an enigmatic man, a poet and a scholar. His poetry embodies every contradiction and paradox on the edge of light and darkness.

His poetry is a journey of the heart, exploring the mysterious depths of allusion and metaphor. In Matthews’ world, the thunderous roar of the sea is a muffled echo within us, a call to the wild that resides in every heart.

His poems are not just written; they are felt, discovered, and unravelled. Each reading is an act of pleasure, a communal unearthing of hidden complexities. Whether read aloud or in the quiet solitude of the mind, Matthews’ poetry is a profound experience, a celebration of life in all its beautiful contradictions.

Early Influences:

“My life started in the rural landscapes of Staffordshire, where I grew up amidst the wild things, crafting my own languages within the pages of an old atlas. My early years were more than just school; they were a crucible that shaped me into the poet and artist I am today. Post-university, I ventured abroad in search of the bizarre and the profound. Returning to Shropshire felt like a renaissance into the familiar yet mysterious—a journey of reacquaintance.”

Interplay of Poetry and Painting:

“In the primal dance of creation, poetry arises from the mind’s dark, fertile soil, and painting springs from the same untamed essence. As a hawk soars above the terrain, each form may yield to the other. Now, the hawk rests upon poetry, yet painting and poetry are akin to twin creatures questing for the same eternal verities within the heart’s wilderness.”

Contrasts in Poetry:

“In the labyrinth of my verses, I explore the duality of existence – the coexistence of the sacred and profane, light and shadow, the known and the unknowable. This dance of contrasts is akin to walking through the wilderness, seeking both the echo and the voice, to understand what can be revealed within the human soul.”

Prolific Writing and Maintaining Quality:

“The journey from conception to fruition of a poem may span from the brief flicker of a candle to the enduring glow of the northern lights. My ninth collection, “Awaken in Seascape”, was written in my spare time, over the course a year, while engaged in academic research.”

Transfigurative Poetry:

“Transfiguration in poetry is, to me, an alchemy that turns the mundane into the sublime, the ordinary into the divine. It is a pursuit to encapsulate the ephemeral beauty of the world and to immortalise the transient through the crucible of language.”

Unconventional Writing Style:

Being a transformative poet means venturing beyond conventional boundaries. It is a pilgrimage across the barren landscape of language and form. To captivate with unconventionality is to beguile and seize the reader’s attention, guiding them through unknown realms with the allure of discovery, epiphany, awakening and wonder.”

Significant Works:

“‘Hyperion’ emerges from the crucible of personal anguish, a forge where simplicity is the highest form of sophistication. It’s a work that distils complex emotions into a purer, more accessible form, reflective of life’s profoundest truths.”

Capturing Reality:

“Poetry, my sanctuary, is the lens through which the chaos of reality is distilled into clarity. It’s the heart’s eye, capturing the world not as it is, but as it’s felt and imagined, a bridge spanning the chasm between the tangible and the ineffable.”

Influence of Scholarly Background:

“My academic pursuits in early modern poetry are but a facet of my language’s prism. While they inform my forays into the surreal and mystical, my poetry often transcends scholarly boundaries to capture a reality that is as bewildering as it is beguiling, seeking to unify the paradoxical and liberate the unseen.”

Advice to Aspiring Poets:

“For those embarking on the poet’s journey, remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Embrace both the rigors of discipline and the chaos of creativity. Study the masters, wrestle with the rules, then let your unique voice soar on the wings of unfettered expression.”

Dream Collaboration:

“To collaborate with Taliesin, the ancient bard, would be to drink from a wellspring of primal creativity. Yet, a fusion with a fantasy writer for a young adult audience promises a delightful foray into realms unbound by the fetters of adult cynicism.”

Recognition by Magazine:

“The recognition by Voraka Magazine is a gratifying nod to the labour of love that each collection represents. It’s not just about reaching a wider audience; it’s about connecting, reappraising, the shared human experience that poetry, at its best, can evoke – be it a chuckle or a tear, a nod of understanding, or a gasp of surprise, or a grasp of realisation.”

Magazine Feature & Interview

“Awaken in Seascape,” my 8th poetry collection, is featured in the May 2023 issue of VORAKA magazine, p. 30, with an extensive interview in which I talk about writing poetry, p. 31.


Interview & Review: DeMode Global Issue [Vol V, Issue XXV]

“When you open a book; you are also opening your mind, your potential and your point of view. We have brought you a lost of the top 9 must-read books for this spring that will help you open up your potential and your point of view in 2022. From gripping thrillers to literary gems…Idylls of the Nymphai: From a Mantic Coracle by Author Harry Matthews…”

Enjoy reading DE MODE JAN-FEB-MARCH 2022

A Whimsical Journey Through India

“A Whimsical Journey Through India” by Harry Matthews is a captivating travel verse narrative that takes readers on an exploratory adventure through India. Matthews, an easy-going modern-day explorer, ventures into the heart of India with a blend of irony and a keen eye for the unusual. His journey is not just about the places he visits but also about the vibrant lives of the people he encounters and the rich tapestry of experiences that India offers.

The book offers a fresh perspective on the classic rite of passage, beginning with a mystical invocation and spanning a journey filled with zest and openness to the diverse cultural milieu of India. The narrative transcends mere observation, offering insights into the very essence of Indian life and Matthews’ deep engagement with its people.

Ruth Bidgood, the late Anglo-Welsh poet, praised the book for providing explanations where necessary, suggesting that Matthews does not shy away from the complexities of his experiences, but rather seeks to elucidate and inform the reader. Simon Calder, a travel journalist, compliments the book for its beautiful illustrations, there are 75 throughout, which enriches the storytelling with visual splendour.

Matthews is noted for his versatility as a writer, having published poetry prior to this verse travelogue. His journey to India, taken before his university finals and during the monsoon season, showcases his adventurous spirit and ability to embrace the unexpected.

The cover of the book features vibrant artwork, is indicative of the colourful and whimsical nature of both the journey and the writing style. The peacock, a symbol of grace and beauty, may hint at the richness of the narrative and the depth of exploration into India’s cultural heritage.

“A Whimsical Journey Through India” is a travelogue in verse that captures the essence of India through the eyes of the narrator, Harry Matthews. The manuscript is structured as a series of chapters, each focusing on different regions and experiences in India. It opens with evocative verses describing the scene in Darjeeling by the third highest mountain in the world, setting the tone for a journey that’s as much about introspection as it is about the exploration of a country​​.

As the journey unfolds, we’re taken to Udaipur, where art and history meet in a miniature school and a tale of an unconventional artist in Amsterdam is recounted, highlighting the contrasts and the rich tapestry of experiences that India has to offer. In Jaisalmer, the narrative confronts the history of Partition and the raw, elemental forces of nature​.

The tranquillity and heritage of Rohet Garh are explored, offering a peaceful respite and a chance for reflection the vibrant plumage of Rohet’s peacocks is used as a segue into discussions on Darwin’s theories, blending the natural world with intellectual musings​.

The travel poetry closes with a personal reflection on the author’s journey, both literal and metaphorical. The narrator delves into his family’s history, his motivations for travelling, and the transformative impact of India on his life. The narrative is suffused with cultural insights, personal growth, and a deep appreciation for the spirit of India.

Matthews’s writing is rich with description, capturing the sensory experiences of India, from the chai canteens perched precariously on mountain sides to the serenity of the ascetics in their orange robes​​. The narrative is also not shy of acknowledging the challenges and oddities encountered along the way, such as the surreal experience with the Sherpas in Shimla​.

“A Whimsical Journey Through India” is both a personal journey and a cultural exploration, written with an eye for detail and a heart open to the myriad experiences of life in India. It weaves together the external landscapes with the internal voyage of the author, offering a nuanced perspective that goes beyond the typical travel narrative, not least it being in verse. Matthews manages to capture the soul of India, with its contrasts, beauty, and complexities, while also charting his own inner transformation.

A Whimsical Journey Through India

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Harry Matthews; First Printing (1 July 2021).
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 410 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1916871968
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1916871960
Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 15.24 x 2.13 x 22.86 cm

True to the God in You

“True to the God in You” by Harry Matthews is a profound collection of poems that dives deep into the exploration of self, the divine, and the intricate relationship between them. Matthews’ work is a blend of spiritual introspection and vivid imagery, evoking a strong sense of connection between the individual self, the collective human experience, and the divine.

The collection starts with a powerful preface, setting the tone for a journey of self-realisation and spiritual awakening. Matthews skilfully intertwines themes of strength, loyalty, courage, and sacrifice, presenting them as essential components in the pursuit of understanding and aligning with the divine.

Throughout the poems, Matthews exhibits a remarkable ability to draw from various religious and spiritual traditions, particularly Islamic mysticism. His references to the Quranic notions of love and mercy provide a fresh perspective on these concepts, transcending traditional interpretations.

One of the most striking aspects of Matthews’ poetry is his use of natural imagery to depict spiritual and emotional states. This is evident in poems like “On the Pleasures of Sunbathing” and “On Conversing with Blackbirds,” where mundane activities or observations become metaphors for deeper spiritual truths.

The collection also delves into the human condition, exploring emotions such as love, grief, and defiance. Matthews shows a keen understanding of these experiences, always connecting them back to the overarching theme of divine presence and guidance.

In conclusion, “True to the God in You” is a compelling and thought-provoking collection that encourages readers to seek a deeper understanding of themselves and their place in the divine scheme. Matthews’ poetic voice is both unique and universal, making this collection a valuable addition to contemporary spiritual literature.


Reviewing these poems, one encounters a rich tapestry of emotion, introspection, and philosophical exploration. They range from the melancholic and introspective to the powerful and socially critical, reflecting a deep engagement with both personal and broader human experiences.

Epigraph (John Keats, Hyperion: A Fragment, Book III. (1819))

This excerpt from Keats’s “Hyperion” resonates with a profound sense of melancholy and existential questioning. The speaker feels weighed down by an inexplicable sadness, yearning for a lost sense of freedom and purpose. Keats’s use of language and imagery captures a deep sense of longing and the pain of unrealised potential.

The Great Physician

This poem explores themes of longing, fulfilment, and the search for meaning in life. The imagery of driving through a storm towards a lake symbolises a journey through turmoil towards peace or clarity. The poem’s conclusion, suggesting that true resolution comes through a form of metaphorical death, hints at the idea of rebirth or transformation as a path to overcoming inner conflicts.


This poem is a complex meditation on divinity, knowledge, and the human condition. The references to a ‘super brain’, ‘Divine Holograms’, and the ‘Central Sun’ are particularly evocative, suggesting a search for a higher understanding or connection. The poem grapples with the nature of God and the human quest for enlightenment, blending scientific and spiritual imagery in a compelling way.

Dark Fire

“Dark Fire” delves into the intensity of passion and love, using vivid imagery to describe a deep and consuming relationship. The poem transitions from joyous celebration to a darker, more reflective tone, questioning the lasting impact of such intense emotions. The use of contrasting images like ‘bright burning firework’ and ‘dark fire’ effectively captures the complexities of love and desire.

You’re Still End

This poem reflects on identity, destiny, and the inexorable march towards an end, possibly death. It speaks to the shared human condition, the unavoidable nature of change, and the search for meaning in the face of these realities. The poem’s sombre tone suggests a resignation to fate, while also acknowledging the power of human emotions and experiences.


Here, the poet offers a critical view of societal structures and class distinctions, using the term ‘chavs’ to represent a marginalised group. The poem seems to critique both societal views of this group and the group’s own internal struggles. The imagery of ‘hooded monks’ and ‘dark-skinned and cold’ individuals suggests a complex interplay between societal perceptions and personal identity.

Striving in the Path of God

This poem explores themes of moral judgment, societal control, and the struggle between higher ideals and base instincts. The imagery of ‘invisible policemen’ and the ‘edifice teeters’ suggests a conflict between societal order and personal freedom. The poem’s intense and sometimes violent imagery reflects a deep engagement with the challenges of living a moral life in a complex world.

Overall, these poems by Harry Matthews offer a rich exploration of human emotion, existential struggle, and the quest for meaning. They blend personal introspection with broader social commentary, using vivid imagery and powerful language to engage the reader on multiple levels.


  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Harry Matthews (29 Dec. 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 78 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1838349812
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1838349813
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 12.85 x 0.48 x 19.84 cm
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