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Mary Dyer’s Hymn (2nd review)

Anita Hemphill McCormick
On Art (March 2020)
Mary Dyer’s Hymn and other Quaker Poems
written by Stanford Searl
reiewed by Anita Hemphill McCormick

As ever, Stan Searl’s poems are a glory, a pleasure, and an incantation, whether he hymns in praise of God or records one man’s heartfelt, sometimes agonizing love for his child. This volume, however, goes further and is a history lesson as well. The benign version of Puritans, which some of us learned in childhood, is overwhelmed by the facts we confront in these poems, as we watch the Puritans hang Mary Dyer and drive other colonists and Native Americans to their deaths.

Searl’s sources provide choice settings for these confrontations. While reading this book, I went online and found pictures of the historical places Searl mentions. My walls are now peppered with pictures of the Shelter Island Quaker Monument, of “grandfather Waterman’s” grave, and of Mary Dyer’s statue at the Massachusetts State House – and I’m looking forward to reading my stack of articles about these historical people and places. Searl has graced history with a rich voice, bringing the dead and their voices to life, strong and plangent. We are lucky to be able to eavesdrop.  ~~~

Don and Anita McCormick are Co-Clerks of Grass Valley Friends Meeting in Nevada City, CA (PYM).

Mary Dyer Poetry

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