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 Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy, as well as the Johns Hopkins edition of Torquato Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered. An award-winning contributor to periodicals like Magnificat and Touchstone, he has authored some fourteen books of nonfiction, including Nostalgia, Out of the Ashes, and Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church. He has taught at universities since 1987 and currently serves as professor of literature and writer in residence at Northeast Catholic College 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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