Richmond, CA: Omnidawn Press, 2001
One meaning of Harrow is to break up the clods of soil and weeds,
another refers to Jesus descent into hell to free the righteous.
The latter doesnt quite make sense in this book but the idea of
breaking apart certainly does.
Robinson struggles with the orderliness of faith. In the poem "plaid"
the attraction of this order and clarity is revealed. The desire to have
faith be grid like, "arteries translucent/ with orderly movement.//
To be faithful, properly,/is to be transparent via this."
But this cannot be and it is in this longing for clarity that the meditation
in this book begins. Robinson is at once an outsider to a particular faith
and an insider to faith on a more abstract and general level. There is
much of H.D.s deep connection to mystery in these passages which
I admire for its absolute foreigness. The outsider though is decidedly
feminine. It is the feminine principle, which threatens a possible upheaval
of the plaid like by-ways, and moves itself into the foreground calling
for attention to itself as a keystone of faith. "Saw her who had
affronted/The mystery" she will be heretic always by her very nature.
To take issue with Western Christianity from a feminist perspective is
easy to do. You only need to take a glance at the history and point out
the political events and machinations that have so consistently screwed
women. It is much harder to take on Otherness at a spiritual level and
examine in terms of belief, what misses, what is heretic, what is forlorn
and this is the work that Elizabeth Robinson takes on.
--- Sarah Anne Cox