The Hundredfold

Songs for the Lord

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The Hundredfold is a tapestry of hymns, monologues, and short lyrics knit together as one book-length poem in praise of Christ in all his startling humanity. Drawing from the riches of the English poetic tradition—meter, rhyme, music—the poet considers the mysterious man from Nazareth and the world he came to set on fire with splendor. 

Having made a career translating the Italian masters Dante and Tasso, Anthony Esolen now puts on the dusty mantle of such English craftsmen as Donne, Milton, and Hopkins in his first book of original contemplative poetry. The Hundredfold contains dramatic monologues set in first-century Greece and Palestine; lyrical meditations on creation, longing, failure, modern emptiness, and unshakeable hope; and twenty-one brand-new hymns, set to such traditional melodies as “Picardy” and “Old One-Hundred-Twenty-Fourth”. 

The book includes an introduction with diamond-sharp insights into English poetic form—at a time when form is so often misunderstood, if not dismissed. It provides an invaluable resource for students, teachers, and poets themselves, as well as those who simply read poetry for pleasure.

Anthony Esolen

Anthony Esolen translated the Modern Library edition of The Divine Comedy, as well as the Johns Hopkins edition of Torquato Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered. An award-winning contributor to numerous periodicals, he has authored fourteen books of nonfiction, including Defending Boyhood, Out of the Ashes, and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization, as well as a book of poetry, The Hundredfold. He has taught at universities since 1987 and currently serves as professor of literature and writer in residence at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts in New Hampshire.


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by Jeff Pajak
on 2/17/2020
Songs for the Lord...and YOU
You may not like poetry. But this poem is a song, and to paraphrase the author, who doesn’t like a good song? Song is the art of regular folk.

This particular song, The Hundredfold, is divided into many “verses”: some hymns, some lyrics, some monologues, and they all sing about suffering and joy. In other words, they sing about your life.

But the best songs don’t just speak about your life. They also speak about the world in which you live, in the culture you breathe, day in and day out. If you can get away from the flashing lights and deafening noise, the air of American culture feels pretty toxic. So, how do you renovate a ruined culture? Poet and critic Dana Gioia gives simple advice: rebuild—one house at a time. After seemingly incredulous efforts, Esolen has finished the first house on the block. And the welcome light is on.

In a culture where we have all but forgotten how to imagine and how to sing, here are poems with which we may begin anew.
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“In an age of ugliness and transgression, beauty is an act of mercy, a sanctification of the human experience. In creating this exceptional work of poetry and song in praise of Jesus Christ, Esolen offers readers an experience of beauty as life-giving water in a desert.” — Most Reverend Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia 

“ A hundredfold new pleasures from one of America's finest essayists. Buy two. One to keep and one to give to a cherished friend.”— Maggie Gallagher , Executive Director, Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship 

ldquo; How does one describe a work as rare, as priceless as this? Nourishment for the malnourished soul. Food for those hungry for beauty. Manna in the desert of our postmodern waste land. Lembas for sojourners in Mordor. All we need to do is taste and see that it is good!”— Joseph Pearce, Author, Literature: What Every Catholic Should Know 

“ Anthony Esolen is one of the best writers in the world today. Profound thinker, engaging storyteller, translator of Dante, lyrical lover of hymns— it is not surprising that he should burst into song. Not surprising, but still astonishing to encounter his poetry.”— Dale Ahlquist, President, Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton; Author, Knight of the Holy Ghost 

“ After mounting a much-needed defense of formal poetry, Anthony Esolen invites us to read, and to savor, his own much-needed attempts to bring music, meaning, and a sense of wonder back into poetry.”— Louis Markos, Professor of English, Houston Baptist University; Author, On the Shoulders of Hobbits 

“ In The Hundredfold Anthony Esolen restores lay consciousness of poetry's high beauty and deep pathos by new creation, original poems and hymns which give fresh voice to the legacy we have in Holy scripture. Bravo!”— David Lyle Jeffrey, Distinguished Professor of Literature and the Humanities, Baylor University

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