The Bower of Nil: A Narrative Poem
By Frederick Glaysher. Hardcover. 71 pages. Earthrise Press, 2002. Reverberations. ISBN-10: 0967042178. ISBN-13: 9780967042176. eISBN: 9780982677827. $21.95 (Hardcover not available outside USA.) Free Shipping in the USA.
Fifteen years in the making, overturning the nihilism of Nietzsche, moving beyond Postmodernism, Peter Marsh, an academic philosopher struggling with analytical philosophy, weighs modern life in a conversation with his friend, David Emerson, a businessman. Brought together after long separation by the brutal murder of Mary, Peter’s wife, a time of devastating loss and crisis, their friendship inspires a dark night of the soul, during which Peter’s meditations range over several hundred years of philosophy, politics, religion, social change, the dilemmas of existence, evoking a vision of the complexities of the 21st Century, the United Nations, and global governance.
Structured around classical Greek choral movements, the first section ponders themes from Japanese Buddhism, while the second and third survey Western philosophy from Aristotle and Plato through Descartes, Pascal, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Derrida, and others, in a powerfully dramatic grappling with philosophy, East and West.
“This is a doorway into the future . . . the subtleties and complexities of the aforementioned cultures inform his subject matter and his political interests circumscribe the work. The Bower of Nil is an Orwell meets Nietzsche meets C.S. Lewis mélange of despair, madness, and hope. Not lyrical, not tidy and not information-byte-sized, your fingers come away heavy with paint—rather than print— after reading this. Colored richly and satisfyingly with symbols (e.g., the name Peter, the lily, the lantern) that speak directly to the psyche—the way that artwork spoke to the illiterate in the Middle Ages….” —Poems Niederngasse
“Glaysher pays his readers the compliment of assuming that they will have at least a basic familiarity with the major world classics and philosophies of both East and West.” —Manifold 44
“Glaysher . . . explores the liberating potential of loss and acceptance as agents for empowerment.” —The Carolina Quarterly
“Glaysher is uncompromising in his assessment of the human experience. …It’s a book that is food for thought.” —Poetic Voices
“Mr. Glaysher writes with a genuine passion, with an obvious thrill at the play of ideas, and with an often compelling sense of purpose. …very worthwhile reading and the middle section is just outstanding.” —BrothersJudd.com
“The Bower of Nil is where we all live. . . . The narrator and academic, Peter, would appear to hate academics, but the 65 page poem is a masterfully executed academic exercise, using the history of western philosophical thought as a metaphorical tool. The invading enchantress — Peter’s wife for 30 years — has been ’stripped of her shoes and socks, spine-sliced / at the back of her neck’ and left ’on top of a garbage heap.’ Glaysher may have meant the enchantress to be more muse-like, but anarchist, hedonist Mary Marsh, as an idea, appears ever his foil. Peter’s children have had ’every advantage / of the modern world,’’ but grew up with many human failings. The narrator says one needs to learn ’to be content and to dominate oneself, / not others.’ . . . A thought provoking read for these times!” —Pulsar
“This poem dated 2002 C.E. is quite fascinating as a kind of island in a sea of history, a landmark in a mist of unrealized dreams and all the vast potential of the days that remain ahead of us.” —Solarguard
“In some ways, this seems like the least fashionable book imaginable in today’s poetry world, which I would hazard to say is exactly what Glaysher wants it to be.” —Sidereality
“The Bower of Nil is a fine poem by a poet who has done his work carefully and well. His protagonist has a tangible reality even when, especially when, he is groping with the most difficult and obscure ideas…. Glaysher tells his story and draws us in skillfully. So much so that his book, a thing made of paper and ink, becomes a rich, vital experience for which we should be grateful.” —Muse Apprentice Guild