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Catherine Woodward
Graham Hardie "Love’s Pathos"
Published by Ettrick Forrest Press Ł6.99

‘I met you in the rose Garden’

There are few real romantics, those at least who thoroughly believe in the all redeeming qualities of love, who see it as a virtue above themselves. In his debut collection Graham Hardie proves he is just that; his poems centre on the nature of the feminine, and how ‘love is driven…into the hearts of women’, a precious and ethereal thing. For those who are intrinsically romantic, Love’s Pathos offers a deeply personal liturgy on love, for those who are not so inclined, it attempts to reveal loves beauty.

In all of Love’s Pathos a feminine ethos and an underlying sadness can be heard, the resounding ‘She’ who resides at the centre of his writing ‘she was there’ ‘she remains’, personifies love as something unattainable, as something, as someone, who must be charmed and cherished, although poignantly she is someone who is not always contented. Both ‘Her’ sadness and Hardie’s is sensed throughout the collection, the two often being one, an example of Hardie’s great empathy and belief in the strength of love.

Steeped in legend and mythology Hardie tells of romance, loss, his own roots and self. In all of his themes his poetry carries an exotic dream-like quality ‘She was the seal/sitting on the star/watching the ocean/of the sky.’ Both indulgently lyrical and evocative; Hardie’s strange imageries have their own captivating mythology.

As well as being fantastical Hardie’s poetry is deeply proverbial, particularly in his simplest of verse. The emphatically worded ‘Love’ and vivid ‘The Soul of Magdalene’ are small teachings on the nature of romance and the gorge between men and women, the sole separating factor being the capacity for love. Similarly Hardie’s writing is at times profoundly spiritual, his poems dance with the powers of the cosmic and the animal, exploring the supernatural sides of the human. Love’s Pathos demonstrates a profound understanding of the extraordinary, whether that is talent (such as that of Kurt Cobain or Patti Smith) beauty or kindness of spirit.

However, slipped among the fantasies of Love’s Pathos are bouts of reality, the two together place love both in the realm of the sublime and firmly on Earth. The poem ‘Deep Throat Blue’ for example puts an image to the actuality of lust ‘In black with a skimpy skirt wrapped/around her leg’, showing the darker side of celebrated love, and proving Hardie to be less idealistic about romance and the feminine as previously gleaned.

It is best to read Love’s Pathos with an open mind and to let it challenge your views on love; in this collection it is all redeeming, all inspiring, perhaps a disagreeable concept with pessimists and cynics. It may well be that Love’s Pathos represents a new optimism for the age old sordid affair.