Dying I Was Born

Dying I Was Born

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Dying I Was Born

Henry Beissel
Woodcuts by Peter Schwarz

6 X 8 inches, 64 pages
Six woodcuts

Penumbra Press Poetry Series, No. 30

THIS IS AN EXQUISITE LONGPOEM written in honour of the author's father as well as of many others whose recent deaths have imposed (perhaps even inflicted) a period of loss. Rebounding from the hurt, Beissel reflects on the healing process, which takes the forms of movements in the celebration of the mass.

For aeons death drew circles in the blood
and stirred the species, till we came to know
music and madness where nothing stands still
but time when it unties the knot that holds
a hundred billion galaxies together.
The dead
alone rest

The dead are troubled by the flesh no more.
No more the frenzy to make sense or love
the measure of a world that makes no sense
and loves flesh no more than stone or flower,
than the stars drawing circles in the void.
is darkness.

Each hour weaves unseen the random paths
of particles into what we call lives
of fate, yours and mine, each a passing fancy,
a tall tale the last hour dismisses,
throwing our bones to the dogs of oblivion.
The dead
find peace




Henry Beissel


Henry Beissel was born in 1929 in Cologne, Germany, and came to Canada in 1951 via London, England, where he studied philosophy. He tried his hand as warehouse packer, apple picker, door-to-door salesman and filmmaker. He resumed studies at U of T in English literature, writing his Master's thesis on Henry Vaughan. He is now a widely published poet, playwright, translator and editor with over thirty titles to his credit.

F.R. Scott thought that his Cantos North was the first epic to see the Canadian north "in its entirety, as a matrix which binds the whole together in a national mythology." His play Inuk and the Sun had its premiere in Stratford in 1973 and continues to be performed the world over.

Helmut Markus (G�ttingen), Settlement and Survival: Henry Beissel's 'Cantos North'
Settlement and Survival: Henry Beissel's 'Cantos North'

Writers' Union


Peter Schwarz


Peter Schwarz lived and worked as a full-time artist in Grafton, Ontario. His bold-stroked paintings, pastels, and prints have graced the covers and interiors of numerous Penumbra Press books. His work embraces the human range from agony to ecstasy and inspires with its resilience.

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