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Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite
Markings in the Cave, a brilliant collection of short poems by Paul Tait, is a profoundly personal selection of one man’s musings – perhaps unheard by the silently attentive universe that he addresses. A theme emerges from these plaintive ruminations of the soul – an unusual, contrapuntal theme told in both harmonic and discordant tones – that seems to stress a tenuous but ever-present tension between the suffering in the world and the hope embedded in religion, with a frequent interjection and nod to the comforting distortion of personal spirituality.
These poems are concise and often highly structured, but like a waterfall over boulders they always flow. The verse often ranges from the subliminal to the sublime, evoking from the wreckage of an imperfect world the possibility of hope and sacred redemption, though always with a shred of doubt. Whether pondering the elusive state of marriage or the illusive promises of death, the poetry resonates with both raw and ethereal truths that are almost fully realized, but fortunately not quite.
Paul Tait has created from his musings in Markings in the Cave a perfect and exquisite minor gem on which to gaze and from which to reflect on one’s own fallible existence in this world. Have we been abandoned to our lowly selves by our Creator, leaving us with the question asked in I Need the Moon to Renew my Eyes: Or are all God’s given gifts/Interminable rifts/With the sovereignty of man? Must we despair, as offered in The Haunted Face of the Soul You Deserted: You are not prepared – you cannot divert it/The haunted face of the soul you deserted. Must we proclaim as one man does in Empty Net: Still, I can’t help needing/What I haven’t got.
The poet is not afraid to include a subtle rhyme or two to make his poetry sing, but every rhyme is situated perfectly within the rhythm of its verse, and these poems would be much the less without them. I feel very fortunate to have chanced upon this poetry.