A Poem is Born
By Ron Hansen
240 pages. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
In Exiles(Farrar, Straus and Giroux), novelist Ron Hansen (Mariette in Ecstasy) imagines the collision of piety and passion, sensuality and asceticism, hope and despair that caused a revolutionary new poetic rhythm to break through the self-imposed silences of a Jesuit seminarian named Gerard Manley Hopkins. Obsessed by the drowning death of five shipwrecked Franciscan nuns in 1875, Hopkins produced his masterpiece, "The Wreck of the Deutschland," one of the holiest terrors in English poetry. Succumb to the poem's spiritual undertow, and ponder the dark uncertainties of faith.