Allegro To Life
by Earl Vincent de Berge
Reviewed by Lenora Rain-Lee Good
Nonfiction / Poetry / Guatemala & Sonoran Deserts
January 13, 2022
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 8182538505
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-8182538504
118 pages
5 Stars
To Order: Amazon

This musical tribute of poetry is a symphony of words in three movements, Songs from My Life, Poems From Guatemala, and Desert Songs. De Berge starts us off with Poetry Begins,

“The art of poetry begins
                in the seam where
                the grammar of
                communication flowers.”

In Ancient Stevedore we read about a tired old man, who is still working at loading and unloading ships at the dock. A young man’s job, but it is a job, and he is prideful, and tired. De Berge also asks some philosophical questions such as, “Where did time come from … where is it going?” in Spinning in Emptiness.

Mr. de Berge has some stunning lines throughout his book. “The stone eyelid of time blinks at nothing.” And a few pages further he wakes “… oneself from nightmares, who hired such strange actors?”

He defines love in Love Is, and I read a perfect definition. He writes about what he sees—quaking aspen, cactus, dreams, rabbits, birds, donkeys. Each a story of its own. Many stories have happy endings, On the Death of a Mexican Boy will bring the same “emotional flood of fear, anger / and sorrow” to you as to him when as a youngster he came upon death by the road.

There is a judicious use of photographs in this book. The one of the mother and child that introduces the second movement, Poems From Guatemala makes me smile back at them. We go from Green Onions to Touch and learn “ … why old folks die, / after a mate’s passing: / lonely skin cannot survive / the silence that lingers / in the lack of touch. / It is an ache that grips the heart / too hard.” We are taken from hardship to hope, where A Teacher Near Chajul says, “ … newly paved / road to her village means better teachers / may come to … her daughters … The apples taste sweeter.”

The people have been through long hardships of war, draught, starvation, and yet they smile (de Berge shares the photos to prove that) and have hope, and de Berge shares their hurt and their hope in these poems. The last line of the last poem in this section speaks loud to me. It is a line that needs to be placed on billboards throughout the countries of the world. It is a line politicians need not just to learn, but to have engraved on their hearts and in their brains. “Genocide is the mother of the next war.” From Cesspool Brain.

The third and final movement of our symphony is Desert Songs. These poems will make you homesick for the desert, even if you’ve never been to one. And when you go, I hope you are rained on so you will know the Desert After Rain, “ … flowering palo verde trees geyser / above cactus spines and creosote bush.” I hope you camp and are blessed with a Rabbit in Camp and can sit, be still, and observe him when “sated, he lies down … just an odd / shaped stone a hawk might overlook.”

I thought, surely, his penultimate poem, The Finality of It, would be the end of the book, but no, he tells of killing a rabbit to eat, and the “Translucent, lifeless black agates / looking back at me in despair, / a well of infinity and irrevocable death!” even though it is a beautiful poem this reviewer is grateful he chose, instead, to end with Candles and, “Candlelight brushes all it touches / with a peaceful golden voice.”

This book has been touched by the golden voice of candlelight. Even his sad poems though sad, are neither maudlin, nor sentimental, but painted with that golden voice. This is a book you will want to read several times. The first time straight through so you won’t miss anything, and after that, either by random opening or deliberate choosing.


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