Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

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The world is dark, but the wood is full of stars

Seán Hewitt’s pamphlet lives up to its name, offering glimmers of light in a world saturated by darkness. This collection is the soul-cry of a boy growing into an adulthood that remains vulnerable, but takes on a shine of unguarded wisdom.

In the garden, in ‘Kyrie’, the protagonist hears the cries of cats, and mistakes them for a child left outside. He is taken back to the suicide (or attempted) of a loved one, and to the memory of breaking the news to his mother, his crying over the phone:

[…] and how I made
an animal sound, a noise so primitive
that I felt inhuman

Throughout, Hewitt’s language is strikingly measured, enlarging the impact of the poems’ meaning. The significance of events transpires retrospectively in the reader’s mind with a slow awakening. This was particularly effective in ‘Moor’, where the separate pieces suddenly took on a complete picture towards the end, and I had to re-read it immediately, now with an awful dread at seeing much darker action buried within its words.

Nature serves as a balm for complicated love, for grief, and uncertainty. The cold quench of water, rain-saturated woods, and night-time wanderings, offer the narrator solace:

[ … ] On my knees, I put my hand
into the dark of the pond, watch it open

like a white flower.

Images such as the ‘strange geometry’ of the faces of two barn owls give delightful new vantage points for seeing the familiar. Patterns of repeated words create subtle rhyming schemes that encourage thoughtful reading. Allusions to prayer and mysticism depict Nature with reverence, but it’s a worship that remains deeply earth-bound.

The collection blends grief, kindness, and conflicted hopefulness. In many ways the mood remains constant throughout. It is beautiful, coherent, and evocative, but I also look forward to seeing what Hewitt does next. I hope he surprises us.

Zannah Kearns