Mark Twain said, “[t]he fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” In “Love, of a Kind,” poet, Felix Dennis, invokes readers to imagine how one transforms once told they are going to die. How one moves from sadness, confusion, and anger to come to repose knowing that life is best lived without regret.
In June of this year, after a two-year battle with throat cancer, Dennis succumbed to illness. The collection, which was previously published in 2013 in Dennis’ native U.K., has since been released in the U.S. posthumously. Much of the work is complemented by beautifully ornate illustrations from artist, Eric Gill.
In the foreword, Dennis meditates on near-death experiences: “As to whether they make one a better person, a better poet, a better painter or better policeman, I couldn’t say; but they certainly bring urgency in their terrifying wake, an appreciation of the immediate; of sight, sound, colour, texture and a heightened consciousness of one’s surroundings.” The concept of death is certainly not a new exploration in poetry. However, as one faces death, their contemplation becomes all the more thought provoking for the living. The theme while dim, succeeds at reinforcing life, love, and interconnection.
Dennis’ poetry carries a dynamic and robust style with a traditional rhythmic pattern that remains with the reader. Such examples include: “The March of Time,” “Bind Me To The Mast,” “‘Keep your soul in a suitcase…’,” “Voyages,” “There May Come A Day,” and of course, “Love, of a Kind.”
In an excerpt from the latter poem, Dennis notes: “I wrote — but knew that what I sought was shelter, I versed to hide from habit’s helter-skelter, I longed to love but cloaked my heart in armour, I learned too late the coward’s path to karma. This, too, was love, of a kind. Our lives are short, yet full of life and laughter, we guess, I guess, that little follows after; And should we find the ways of fate were mindless; Why then regret a single act of kindness? This, too, is love, of a kind.”
The collection, in its totality, is as expansive as it is immense — demonstrating that inspiration does not stop in the wake of our own mortality. As the last work Dennis was cognizant of, “Love, of a Kind” becomes a one of a kind insight in embracing death while we still have time to live fully.
The Weekender Rating: WWWWW