‘Tim Lilburn’s turn to dromenon, to the ritual pageantry of the visionary recital, is at once historical drama and vivid theurgy. One of our great visionary poets is manifesting kaleidoscopically.’ (Peter O’Leary)
‘Lilburn’s work is richly figurative, but firmly rooted in colloquial speech. He is not only a virtuoso at the linguistic level, taking risks with metaphor and line, but also steeped in a metaphysics of place.’ (Jury citation, Governor General’s Award)
Tim Lilburn is a Canadian poet from Regina, Saskatchewan. In 2003 his collection Kill-site won the Governor General’s Award. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2014, and in 2017 he became the first Canadian to be awarded The European Medal of Poetry and Art, the Homer Prize. Harmonia Mundi is his twelfth poetry collection.
‘ghost footings of a library rising’
Harmonia Mundi borrows its title from Johannes Kepler’s melodious theory of the heavens, but the ‘alarming geometry’ that Tim Lilburn presents in these forty-one poems is far from harmonious. Part One, ‘The Philosophical History’, focuses on the suppression of Plato’s Academy in the early 6th century, followed by its disastrous relocation to the court of Khusrau in Persia. Part Two, ‘Actants, Conatus’, is rooted in contemporary Canada, albeit with a cast of characters that include Augustine, Christ, Duns Scotus, Aelred of Rievaulx and even Kepler himself. These two apparently disparate sections are connected by their preoccupation with loss — with ‘beauty infiltrated everywhere’ — and by a feeling of political disaffection at the demise of certain sustaining paradigms. Harmonia Mundi is a timely and darkly visionary text, which, amid the spreading collapse of the world around us, clings to a single, urgent truth: ‘You must hate / nothing’.