Richard Lannoy, ed. Black Sun: The Collected Poems of Lewis Thompson. Foreword by Andrew Harvey. Prescott, Ariz.: Hohm Press, 2001. Paperback, xxi + 155 pp., US $14.95.
I got to know of the British poet Lewis Levien Thompson (1909–1949) through Richard Lannoy’s edition of the former’s lyrical work The Mirror to the Light, first published in 1984. I remembering being rather impressed with the book and even reviewed it.
This latest offering under the able editorship of Lannoy, who among other things authored The Speaking Tree, gives us another valuable glimpse of Thompson’s unorthodox and highly creative mind. His fine Introduction and Afterword make Thompson and his poetry, which is not easily understood, accessible.
A spiritual adventurer whose inward Odyssey had taken him, in 1932, once and for all from the drab British isles to colorful Benares ( Varanasi), Thompson saw the world through India’s finest metaphysical veil—that of Tantra. It is unfortunate that his life should have been axed short by an overdose of sunlight.
Andrew Harvey, in his foreword, somewhat hyperbolically celebrates Black Sun as “one of the main spiritual events of the early twenty-first century, one whose repercussions and magical influences will be felt for a very long time.” That Western sadhu, who for many years eked out a meager living in India, seeking to cultivate the state of natural spontaneity ( sahaja), the pathless path. It was amidst the noise and silence of that strange land, which is so full of contradictions, that his poetry ripened and acquired both its specificity and universal appeal.
The poem gathered in this slender volume are potent voices, which speak to us of essential truths in a language rich in pregnant symbols that draw the soul back to its source. Thompson was a master painter, and his tool was language. His poetry takes one to the existential edge where only the important questions claim the mind’s attention. The true importance of Black Sun is that it can create a “spiritual event” in the reader.
Copyright ©2006 by Georg Feuerstein. All rights reserved.
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