The Mary Book, assembled by F. J. Sheed. (Sheed and Ward. 16s.)
Reviewed by BARBARA WALL
THIS book of about 300 pages contains essays, poems and pictures about Mary, the Mother of God.
It is arranged in three sections: Anticipatory ; from the Annunciation to the Assumption ; Our Lady in the Church. Most of the contents have been drawn frotn works already published by Messrs. Sheed and Ward : happy the publisher that can make such a rich anthology from previous publications.
For this book is beyond praise as a book about Our Lady. It has everything the pure poetical (Crashaw, Hopkins), the biblical critical (Knox, McNabb, Martindale), the simple devotional (Caryll Houselander), the technical (Fr. Leen), the fantastical (Chesterton) and indeed a gamut as long as Polonius'-but I am out of breath already.
The time-and-place Mary, the outside-space Mary-every possible question that has been worrying the lay mind, perhaps for the first time really thinking about Mary during these past weeks, is here, quite by chance, answered.
Or not by chance, because it is a truism that where one wants elucidation oneself, others, more equipped to go to the root of the matter, have wanted it and found it and can impart it.
Mr. Sheed has done an excellent work in assembling so much wisdom and so much beauty and, incidentally, so much excitement: I could not put this book down reading it in the days preceding the Assumption definition, so absorbing did I find it.
My one criticism : there tends to be overlapping here and there which gives an impression of repetition, but I don't know how this could have been avoided without impoverishment to the individual essays.
Crashavta hymn to the Assumption is too little known. Its opening lines are stupendous and recall,
a little, the incomparable hymn to the Nativity :
Hark 1 she is call'd, the parting houre is come Take thy Farewell, poor world! heav'n must goe home A piece of heav'nly earth; purer and brighter
Than the chaste stars, whose choice lamps come to light her
While through the crystal] orbes, clearer than they
She climbs; and makes a far more milky way.