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Ancestral Lines by Jeremy Hooker

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Ancestral Lines is a sequence of poems about 'the river of desire' that flows through the lives of a family. In these poems Jeremy Hooker recalls his parents and grandparents, and an elusive great grandfather. He both honours the mystery of personal identity, and celebrates the oneness of life through the 'lines' of generations. The sequence conveys a strong sense of places in the south of England, but in a special sense: it is grounded upon experience of 'the places that live in people', places that are a 'medium of sharing'. A concern with both the gifts and limits of 'seeing' in the sequence takes its bearings from his father's landscape paintings. Hooker describes his poetry as 'lyric of being', which he defines in the essay accompanying the poems as: 'the quick of experience, whether felt or glimpsed: the living moment which, in an image, may intimate the whole life it is part of'. The figures that appear in the poems are not ghosts; the poet evokes them as real, loved and loving people. According to his way of seeing, each integral being is only partially knowable, yet also flesh of his flesh. Here, as in his favourite quotation from David Jones, Hooker is 'making a shape out of the very things' that have made him.

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