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Poetry Chapbook Review:

By Elise

paradise by elise Paradise by Elise, a British poet and journal editor, is somewhat of an anomaly in contemporary verse. On the one hand, her romantic themes are as common in schoolgirl fantasy verse as prayer is in a nunnery. But on the other hand, it's rarely as good.

I find it difficult to say anything bad about Paradise. It's a well put together book. The cover is fascinating and heralds memories of classic literature while maintaining a professional air of originality. The poems on the inside match the quality and essence as do the artwork that accompanies them. If only more contemporary poets would follow her cue.

The best way to describe Elise's poetic style is to compare it to the Pre-Raphaelites, who were a sort of bridge between the Romantics who preceded them and the Victorians who followed. The primary distinction between a poet like Christina Rosetti, as close a comparison I could find on such short notice, and Elise is that Rosetti seldom wrote a poem that didn't rhyme and Elise seldom writes one that does. But the emphasis on sensuality through symbolism is evident in both.

Compare these lines from Rosetti's “An Echo From Willowwood” and Elise's “Bed Of Dreams” which follows:
Two gazed into a pool, he gazed and she, Not hand in hand, yet heart in heart, I think, Pale and reluctant on the water's brink, As on the brink of parting which must be. Each eyed the other's aspect, she and he, Each felt one hungering heart leap up and sink, Each tasted bitterness which both must drink, There on the brink of life's dividing sea. Lilies upon the surface, deep below Two wistful faces craving each for each, Resolute and reluctant without speech: — A sudden ripple made the faces flow One moment joined, to vanish out of reach: So those hearts joined, and ah! were parted so.
And now, “Bed Of Dreams” …
He must take you to the moonlight. Watch your pale skin rise -- let you be revealed. For his hands were mastered to feel the energy of you. To touch the contours of your shape and deeper into your soul Where worlds await to be discovered, like your body upon the bed of dreams. He will keep you. Enchant you to that sweet surrender. Let you softly fall through the sky into his arms.
Elise is very adept at using the white space to her advantage, and her line breaks are as expert as any Postmodern versifier in the best academic journals today. Paradise explores the spiritual nature of sensuality and metaphysical romance in the spirit of the 19th century Victorians and their Pre-Raphaelite forbears. Sans the overt Christian references; though you will find allusions to Christian concepts like resurrection, redemption and fallen angels. But you'll also find more nonsectarian metaphysical references like “soul”, “enchantments” and those empyreal “nymphs”.

While there is much good to say about Paradise by Elise, there is the irksome quality of her insistent first person lyrics. This is a minor disturbance, however. If you like the Brownings and Rosettis but are looking for something a little more in concert with the times then Elise's Paradise should ring your chimes – without the rhymes.

For more information about how to get a copy of Paradise by Elise, visit
Masque Publishing's website at

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