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 A Collection of Poetry About a Lengthening Journey

by Adrian Rogers, Mary Celeste Press, NSW, 2009

Reviewed by — Jude Aquilina

   The philosophical book title and many of the poems within End is Beginning reflect the ancient Ooroboras, which symbolizes the eternity of time … no end, no beginning, just an endless cycle.  Rogers writes and observes with one foot planted firmly on earth, the other feeling for the esoteric, the metaphysical. In the poem ‘The Speaking Dead’, Rogers captures that fleeting sense we sometimes have of those who have gone before us:


Yet the dead speak …

across wall-cast shadows,

in voices of wind-riding birds

circling coldly eroded battlements

through sun, rain,

and winter snow whisperings

among stone nooks and crannies …


    A friend who visited the battlefield of Culloden said she was overcome with inexplicable sorrow and could hear low voices and cries.  Why shouldn’t poets write about such topics?  Rogers does not offer explanations or try to change readers’ views, he merely describes and questions – in a poetic blend of dream, myth and reality – ‘the endless promenade’ of life. 

    The themes of cycles and of balance are used thoughtfully throughout the book, which has nine sections in roughly chronological order.  


Whether the poet is aptly describing the natural world:


Water falls

pearl and silver –

a light-threaded curtain.


or snatching at memory:


There is a veil –

like something seen

behind closed eyes,

between recollection

across the long, backward reaches

towards childhood …


or musing on the plight of the incarcerated, as in the poem ‘Wild Geese’:


Do freeborn people

Grasp the significance

of wild geese in flight

before wings –

by steel, sun, cold, heat,

or distance … are clipped?


     Deft use of imagery and rich description help Rogers capture the human journey, both personal and universal; these poetic snippets of life and thoughts are obviously gleaned from stations of experience.


    Perhaps Rogers’s choice of italics and centre spacing throughout End is Beginning was to provide a sense of balance, of text and white space represented evenly? Personally I find this layout and font distracting, even annoying.  But it was worth persevering as these poems did indeed take me on a lengthening journey, prompted many recollections and spiritual ponderings and made me think beyond the mundane.  Rogers is obviously well-read and has researched his topics from the Tarot to Gnosticism, while the poems confidently blend the familiar with the ‘other worldliness’.


Is the tail-eating dragon ending a cycle or beginning a new one?  As Rogers writes in the final lines of End is Beginning


The dust of centuries is falling softly …


May poets like Adrian Rogers continue to sense this dust, to think deeply, write poetry and add the pool of human knowledge and art. 


The Sun Behind The Sun

 Reviewed by Rob Harle


   This latest volume of poetry by Adrian Rogers is in one word - brilliant. Indeed like the title suggests, it will shine its way into your heart and illuminate your mind. This book restores my faith in the importance, necessity and importance of quality poetry, even in this age of digital determinism with its fast-fix-texting-socialisation and instant answers.

   This book without doubt confirms Rogers' as a master poet. Highly skilled in the use of metaphor; potent colourful imagery; iteration; and subtle, partially hidden meaning; all infused with a delightful sprinkling of magic. One of Rogers' especially effective poetic devices is his construction and use of compound adjectives and compound verbs, these add power and impact to the quite often ordinary day-to-day events he writes about. As an example; like thread-thin incense smoke, and leaf-stripped shadow trees (p. 25)

   The book runs to seventy pages and is divided into twelve sections, each of four or five poems, then ends with an Epilogue - the title poem. The back-cover note suggests that after you read the last poem, and decode it, you will have an answer? This little inbuilt mystery highlights a theme running through this collection which is not immediately obvious - one of deep arcane secrets, referencing such occult matters as Tarot card meanings, mystical symbols and spiritual insights. Rogers' includes these words and phrases in a most understated way - The Void; Cosmic Egg; The Wheel; Prince and Beggar; The Hermit; and Agni appear innocuously in poems such as Encounter – A Street Dream (p. 37) The second stanza: [Hint: The Wheel, and Prince and Beggar refer to the Buddhist Wheel of Dhamma]


released from fleshy interference

elliptically enclosing

in the cosmic egg


but not illumination

a 'being' state

because the Wheel has stopped

Prince and Beggar

cannot change economic places

    Careful reading will repay the reader with glistening jewels of wisdom and a deeper feeling for the importance of arcane knowledge. Even the seemingly arbitrary division of the book into twelve sections aroused my suspicion – twelve is a significant number in most occult and spiritual traditions. The last few lines of Sonic Track In Time (p. 23)

 stone light crossed

gold sung through arches

echoes, voyages

among dancing dust motes

alchemically three times seven

times like Hildegard's dove

in flight among

and beyond the spheres.

   This somewhat covert theme is dominated by four other more obvious themes running through the book – journeys; the nature of time; the four seasons and the question of what is real and what is illusory? Rogers is an astute observer of nature, I especially enjoy his poems concerning the sea and that strangely enigmatic tidal zone between the fluid, ethereal ocean and the solid fixed material earth. A few lines from: What Was and Is... (p. 24)

 pain is like a line along the tide's edge


like a watermark on sand

like foam trapped between seaweed

and wave shaped ridges.

   In Mambray Creek Dreaming (p. 13) we see Rogers' sharp observation of natural scenes, the first lines:

 From a dry stone creek bed

pale, bark-peeling trunks

stand up

flinging skeletal branches

against an unmarked sky.

   The mystery and profound influence of time is never far from Rogers' mind, he wrestles with this perplexing phenomenon in many of his poems such as in Time Stopped (p.43) The first verse:

When time stopped

springs unwound

a stone dropped

into a pool

ripples spread


and the dust of history was undisturbed

    The Sun Behind The Sun is far more than a pleasing collection of nature and personal observation poems, and far more enigmatic than one poem in the Epilogue. I suggest at least half the poems need careful reading to yield their full meanings. The ancient Alchemists, to which Rogers occasionally refers, wrote their texts in the form of allegorical stories to hide the secrets of their knowledge. Rogers hasn't deliberately written his poems in this way?, but nevertheless many of his beautifully crafted poems contain such secrets.

   I have one minor, though not trivial criticism of this publication, and that is the lack of information about Adrian Rogers! There is no Introduction which the book would have benefited from immensely, but more importantly, there is no biography, photo nor information about this poet at all. Readers like to know a little about the poet, their background and previous publications (heavens, they may even want to read and buy copies?) The book is only available from the publisher's website, not through any major online booksellers -  people cannot buy the book if they do not know it exists! In the poem, The Shell (p. 67) which is about a sea shell found on the beach, it's inhabitant long since gone, Rogers ponders the nature of destiny, the last verse:

 Sun squinting

I wonder what happened to its owner

will our destinies

go similarly unrecorded?

   This rhetorical question is of immense importance to poets and artists in this culturally challenged country, Australia! The overall treatment and acceptance of poets in Australia is nothing less than disgusting, one or two accidentally fall in the spotlight, the rest are persona non grata. Poets of the calibre of Adrian Rogers should be acknowledged as living Australian treasures and honoured accordingly, as they are in many other cultures. The majority of our publishers our generally only interested in sensational, best seller rubbish and are doing nothing to help this situation at all.

   This book is one that all lovers of good poetry should add to their libraries, it will become dog-eared from the pleasure of constant reading and re-reading.






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