In this modern technological world where contemporary spiritual ideas can be shared with the world through the click of a button, it is important not to forget that, for thousands of years, most mythological and metaphysical traditions and concepts were shared through oral traditions.
These included story-telling, prose and poetry—all of which naturally invite the narrator to engage with their audience in dynamic and energizing ways.
One of the great traditions of story telling is the ‘epic’—a lengthy poem, although not one that necessarily rhymes, which generally tells the story of some supreme challenge for a hero.
While not a favored method of story-telling in this televisual age, the epic poem is often cited as the pinnacle of literary achievement. Thus, it is perhaps not surprising that the list of the greatest classical works of all time includes epic poems such as ‘Mahabarata’, the ‘Iliad’, Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ and Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’.
Frederick Glaysher is a poet, contemporary spiritual thinker and truth-seeker who has embraced the epic poem as a way of expressing his deeply-held concern for the spiritual future of humanity.
As he explains in the introduction to his epic poem, ‘The Parliament of Poets’, his vision for this work began several decades ago while studying the worlds of Homer, Virgil, Dante and Milton.
It has taken some 30 years of planning, preparation and four and a half years of writing to bring his narrative vision into publication.
In establishing the ground plan for his work, Glaysher explains that the title The Parliament of Poets: An Epic Poem was derived from both Chaucer and Attar. Whilst he states that in writing the poem, he has ‘sought to sift, ponder and sum up not only American historical experience but the human experience of the major religions of the globe under the impact of modernism’.
Gaysher has, it would seem, set himself an epic challenge!
The story begins with Appollo, the Greek God of poetry, calling together all the poets of the nations of the East and West—both ancient and modern, to a meeting on the Moon.
Here, they are charged with the task of considering ‘modernity’—or to put it another way, the plight of the human in an essentially non-spiritual world.
This parliament of poetic geniuses decides to send the ‘Persona’—a type of investigative researcher, on a journey back down to Earth to visit the seven continents from where he would learn what he can from the great spiritual and wisdom traditions of the World.
It is hoped that his accumulation of knowledge would aid the poets in their quest to determine a harmonizing and all-inclusive spiritual philosophy for mankind to follow.
During his quest, the Persona travels to India, to the ashram of the sage and poet Vyasa in the Himalayas and to Angkor Wat in Cambidia.
From there, his journey takes him through the Far East, including Tibet, China and Korea. In accordance with the terms laid out for him by the poets, he digests the spiritual principles inherent in each location.
Finally, and after much traveling and engagement with spiritual leaders of all continents, he meets Dante, who accompanies the Persona to Chatres Cathedral and then Erasmus who accompanies him to Westminster Abbey in England—both magnificent buildings with their own spiritual traditions carved into stone.
Finally, the journey is complete and the Persona reports back to his overseers to reveal his findings.
All the poets stood silent, awe struck, in tears
as before a miracle, the miracle of life,
the gift from the Lord of All the Worlds.
The book closes with a glossary of terms.
Our Review of ‘The Parliament of Poets’ by Frederick Glaysher
The power of a mythological tale is interwoven into the fabric of its narrative. The crescendo that builds, and which ultimately leads the reader to its climax of revelation, is the key ingredient that makes the epic poem so seductive as a literary form.
With this in mind, I will not comment overly on the story in The Parliament of Poets for fear of spoiling its essential spiritual message and core dynamic for potential readers. This is more than simply trying to avoid ruining its ‘plot-line’ or fear of introducing a ‘spoiler’ into the equation. Instead, this is my way of safe-guarding the inherent esoteric value of the work for a reader—one which is invariably expressed within its whole rhythmic phrasing and textual structure.
What I feel more comfortable talking about is the overall standard of the work.
In this regard, I cannot profess to be an expert of this form of literature nor of poetry in general which makes me unqualified to produce a literary critique of the work from a technical perspective.
But, one has to ask, does this matter?
If the story is engaging and the reader’s attention is kept throughout such a challenging literary experience then it has worked. If its inherent message is communicated in a way that leaves a lasting impression on the layman then that also can be considered a success.
In this regard, The Parliament of Poets, both as a story and as an independently-produced publication, is a success on many levels.
It is a tale about our age of modernity and several contemporary themes have been woven into its narrative in such a way that remind us that perhaps the spiritual crisis humanity faces is an extension of the technological age that we live in.
On the other hand, the poem, it should be stated, is not without its odd flashes of humor and dry irony, which, once again, enrich its overall value as a dynamic and engaging piece of art, rather than a dry academic exercise.
Overall, The Parliament of Poets is the sort of work that leaves you with the impression that other more traditional forms of poetry try too hard to be poetic but that the real inherent value of a myth is best expressed through the rise and fall, ebb and flow of the dramatic resonance of the epic poem.
Let us hope that, through his work, Frederick Gaysher renews an important occult tradition.
This is a unique and powerful work that introduces an established literary tradition to a world that is in desperate need of its essential rhythms and harmonies for spiritual sustenance.