The White Cockade by Charles A. Coulombe (Review)

 

Charles A. Coulombe's White Cockade

The White Cockade by Charles A. Coulombe

For reasons that should shortly become clear, the term ‘Book Review’ may be a misnomer here.

But first, let me just say that what we have to do with here, is a reprint of a very slim volume of poems by Charles A. Coulombe, written in his youth, back in the 1980’s.

Also included is a fair amount of intriguing prose in the form of both preface and afterword by the poet himself, and a lengthy and laudatory introduction, which tells the story of the author’s early life.

Now this “review” is being written by a reviewer, who in general does not read poetry (with the single exception apart from this in recent years of Charles Péguy). I do not read Keats or Yeats or Baudelaire. As such, I really find myself in no position to say how well the young Coulombe’s verse stands up next to other poetry, whether great or good.

If I cannot judge how technically accomplished Coulombe’s poems are, may I still say that I am frequently moved by them?

And, likewise, that these poems are richly evocative of much that seems very important to me.

Thus I relate indeed to his Death in Paris, which would seem to voice the poet’s despair on visiting contemporary France, that the soul of that nation has been killed:

I kneel here at the altar
Of St Nicolas du Chardonnet
I smell incense – miserere mei,
Great God, give a sign!

Yes I relate: For I have also knelt in the same church – bastion of the Tradition in Paris – and I have also despaired of the contrast between the France which is still honoured within its walls and the dry, secular rationalist wasteland beyond its walls …

This is a poem for Paris in France, that once great centre of Christendom. And it may help the reader to say that the poems as a whole serve as an elegy for Christendom.

For Charles A. Coulombe even as a young man remembered. As a young man, I must admit I had very little cultural memory at all. Swept up as I was – like so many young men – in secular ideology and New Age dreams, I believed the last centuries had mostly been a march of progress and enlightenment, with just a few hiccups here and there …

What a different young man Mr Coulombe was to myself! He remembers and he weeps. With Our Lady, he weeps for all that we have lost.

But if I cannot really say much more to the individual poems here, I would still like to record that this little volume, slim as it is, has given me real consolation, meaning, rich satisfaction …

The satisfaction of which I speak is really to do with the soul of the poet himself – for it shines through all three elements invoked above: poetry, prose and biographical introduction.

Charles A. Coulombe is unlike any other Twenty-First century English writer I know. All his writing captures a spirit of remembrance of Christendom. This is to say, that he recalls the sacred civilisational aspirations of the past, not only of Catholic France – but this and far more.

Now Coulombe’s writing is I think, important for many other reasons besides – his gifts as a historian, his lucid analysis of contemporary trends and politics etc.

But we have not so much to do with such things here. Rather we simply have the very personal expression of a soul, undimmed by secular forgetfulness, somnambulance.

This slim volume is for me just another little radiating light from him, warming in the dark …

I shall keep this ’review’ short and sweet: my heartfelt thanks to Charles A. Coulombe for making this humble volume available once more and for affording us such evocative glimpses into a very different world vision than that of mundane – not to mention so often soul murdering – modernity.

If you would like to buy this book from Amazon US, or Amazon UK click on the relevant link below:-

From Amazon US:

These can also be found in different sections at our Amazon UK store here. Several of these also have Reviews which can be found here.

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