Roger Moore was born in 1944 in Wales. After spending some time in France and Spain he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Bristol in 1966. He immigrated to Canada to study at the University of Toronto in 1967 where he received his Master of Arts Degree in Spanish Language and Literature, and later a PhD in the same discipline in 1975. He taught Spanish Literature at St. Thomas Univerisity for more than thirty years.
Moore has written nine books of poetry and two novels, winning two Alfred G. Bailey awards for his manuscripts “Still Lives” (1989) and another for “Alban Angels” (1995). His short story “Decent People” and his novel People of the Mist were listed as finalists for the David Adams Richards prize.
Spanish culture has been a major source of inspiration for Moore. Sun and Moon, Poems from Oaxaca, Mexico (Mount Saint Vincent University Press, 2000), was inspired by Oaxaca, Mexico and the prosecuted Mixtec people. He considers the Spanish poet Quevedo, on whose work Moore is a renowned expert, as a major influence for his writing.
Besides writing and teaching, Moore’s interests include film making, researching,
photography, travelling, and coaching rugby, all of which he pursues in his current
town of Island View, New Brunswick.
Author's Personal Website: http://moore.lib.unb.ca/ & http://moore.lib.unb.ca/poet/
Author's Personal Website: http://moore.lib.unb.ca/ & http://moore.lib.unb.ca/poet/
Poem: "Santo Domingo: worshipping Gaia before the great altar Santo Domingo"
if the goddess is not carried in your heart
like a warm loaf in a shopping bag
you will never discover her hiding place
she does not sip ambrosia from these golden flowers
nor does she mount this vine to her heavenly throne
nor does she sit on this ceiling frowning down
in spite of the sunshine trapped in all this gold
the church is cold and overwhelming
tourists come with cameras not the faithful with their prayers
my only warmth and comfort
not in this god who bids the lily gilded
but in that quieter voice which speaks within me
and brings me light amidst all this darkness
and brings me poverty amidst all this wealth
Published in Sun and Moon: Poems from Oaxaca, Mexico. (Mount Saint Vincent University, 2000).
Used with permission of the author.
Critical Analysis: Spirituality Evoked by the External, but Found in the Self
Dylan Grant (Advanced Poetry Workshop) & Monica Grasse (ACPA Managing Editor, 2016)
In the interview at the very beginning of Roger Moore’s book Sun and Moon, Poem from Oaxaca, Mexico, Moore says that in spite of life’s many dark sides, sustenance can still be found in, among other things, what he calls “a deep belief in a personal religion” (iv). Moore uses his poem “Worshipping Gaia before the Great Altar, Santo Domingo” as an example of the “deep personal religion” he refers to by finding beauty in the simple, natural pleasures of his surrounding life and by allowing himself to be personally affected by it.
In the opening stanzas of this poem, Moore communicates a sentiment that is a common echo of mystics worldwide; the sacred object of our reverence must be carried in our hearts and heard within us as opposed to sought in the external. Although the external evokes a personal reverence, the understanding of life’s deeper meaning is only discovered after reflecting and acting on how that external inwardly affects us. To help readers understand this affectation, Moore presents a relationship between divinity and the individual.
Moore depicts the relationship with divinity – in this case, the “goddess” – in very intimate terms: “carried in your heart/like a warm loaf in a shopping bag” (1-2). This suggests that the deepest spirituality can be found in the most ordinary of situations and is carried with us. Such humble imagery where the goddess can be encountered is contrasted anywhere with the grandiose mythological imagery he refers to with the “golden flower” and “heavenly throne,” where an intimate is impossible. This contradiction upholds the more personal relationship, and in a way discredits the grandiose, highly religious gods who, because they are impersonal, can only “frown[-] down” on those they do not really know (6).
In considering the impersonal god, Moore also questions the purpose of religion by depicting a spiritually unsatisfying church. The lines “in spite of the sunshine trapped in all this gold/the church is cold and overwhelming,” refer to how the sun rains down upon golden objects in many ornate churches, pouring in from the stained-glass windows, but is actually overlooked by those in the church (7-8). Moore continues to lament that the people who have come to visit this ostensibly sacred place have the wrong attitude: “tourists come with cameras not the faithful with their prayers” (9). To bring notice to what we so often miss, Moore makes it likely that these same tourists would likely be busying themselves with vapid entertainment around the stunning natural landscapes as a way of evoking their reverential feelings and not realizing that the landscape could actually be their means of the “deep…personal religion” (iv) Moore describes.
Moore further explains the “personal religion” by countering it with the popular customs of the day (iv); he begins by explaining the religion as “not in this god who bids the lily gilded” (11). To gild a lily means for the flower to be “overlaid wholly or in parts with a thin coating of gold,” as well as to “adorn unnecessarily something already beautiful” (1, OED, Urban). To worship indoors in an overly ornate church is essentially to gild the lily of the humble and natural things that are the real dwelling place of the sacred. As Moore addressed earlier when saying that the goddess must be “carried in your heart, we should not worship a god who “bids the lily gilded” and takes away from the meaning of religion (1).
A deep mystical feeling is instilled in readers by the end of the poem: “but in that quieter voice which speaks within me//and brings me light amidst all this darkness/and brings me poverty amidst all this wealth” (12-14). Finding the divine within oneself and to be inwardly simple in a world of complexity is a call for readers and writers alike to notice the beauty that is around them, and let it enter them to fully understand how it can affect and change their lives.
Works Cited (for analysis):
Moore, Roger. Sun and Moon: Poems from Oaxaca, Mexico. Halifax: Mount Saint Vincent University, 2000. 24. Print.
---. “Introduction and Dedication.” Sun and Moon: Poems from Oaxaca, Mexico. Halifax: Mount Saint Vincent University, 2000. iv. Print.
“gilded, adj.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, Dec. 2015. Web. 9 Feb. 2016.
“gilding the Lilly.” Urban Dictionary. Urban Dictionary, 23 June 2006. Web. 9 Feb. 2016.
Primary Sources: Poetry
---. At the Edge of Obsidian: A Book of Hours (Oaxaca, Mexico). Halifax: Mount Saint Vincent University Press, 2005. Print.
---. “Beaver Pond.” moore.lib.unb.ca. n.d. Web. 9 Feb. 2016.
---. “Birthday Suit.” The Antigonish Review 81-82 (1990): 45-51. Print.
---. “Black Angel.” moore.lib.unb.ca. n.d. Web. 9 Feb. 2016.
---. Broken Ghosts. Fredericton: Gooselane Editions, 1986. Print.
---. Echoes of an Impromptu Metaphysics. Manuscript. 2015.
---. Fundy Lines. Halifax: Mount Saint Vincent University Press, 2002. Print.
---. Land of Rocks and Saints: Poems from Ávila. Fredericton: Nashwaak Editions, 2008. Print.
---. Last Year in Paradise. Fredericton: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1978. Print.
---. Monkey Temple. Halifax: Mount Saint Vincent University Press, 2012. Print.
---. “Obsidian 22.” Ed. Denise Nevo. The Oaxaca Trilogy 3. Halifax: Mount Saint Vincent University Press, 2007. Print.
---. Stars at Elbow and Foot. Manuscript. 2015.
---. Stepping Stones. Fredericton: Robbitown Press, 2005. Print.
---. Sun and Moon: Poems from Oaxaca, Mexico. Halifax: Mount Saint Vincent University Press, 2000. Print.
---. Though Lovers Be Lost. Halifax: Mount Saint Vincent University Press, 2000. Print.
Primary Sources: Chapbooks
Moore, Roger. All About Angels. Fredericton: Roger Moore, 2009. Print.
---. Daffodils. Fredericton: Roger Moore, 1992. Print.
---. Dewi Sant. Fredericton: Roger Moore, 2010. Print.
---. Granite Ship: Lines from Ávila, July-August 2005. Fredericton: Roger Moore, 2006. Print.
---. Iberian Interludes. Fredericton: Roger Moore, 1992. Print.
---. Idlewood. Fredericton: Roger Moore, 1990. Print.
---. In the Art Gallery. Fredericton: Roger Moore, 1991. Print.
---. M Press of Ire: Poems from Ste. Luce-sur-mer Québec. Fredericton: Roger Moore, 2008. Print.
---. On Being Welsh. Fredericton: Roger Moore, 1993. Print.
---. Secret Gardens. Fredericton: Roger Moore, 1991. Print.
---. Triage. Fredericton: Roger Moore, 2015. Print.
Primary Sources: Short Stories & Novels
Moore, Roger. “An Evil Eye.” The Comorant 13.2 (1997): 9-24. Print.
---. “Decent People.” The Nashwaak Review 1 (1994): 203-10. Print.
---. “Field of Peppers.” The Nashwaak Review 3 (Winter 1996): 112-23. Print.
---. “Interlacing Lines.” moore.lib.unb.ca. n.d. Web. 9 Feb. 2016.
---. “The Key.” Fredericton: Roger Moore. 2010. Web. 9 Feb. 2016.
---. “People of the Mist.” Manuscript. 2015.
---. “A Place to Live.” moore.lib.unb.ca. n.d. Web. 9 Feb. 2016.
---. “Piggy.” The Wild East (Spring 1990): 7-10. Print.
---. “Reason’s Dream.” Manuscript. 2015.
---. “Systematic Deception: 17 Short Stories.” Ottawa/Fredericton: Roger Moore, 2015. Print.
---. “The Waiting Game.” moore.lib.unb.ca. n.d. Web. 9 Feb. 2016.
---. “Walking the Walk.” Manuscript. 2015.
---. “The Weavers.” Fredericton: Roger Moore. 2010. Web. 9 Feb. 2016.
Primary Sources: Academic
Moore, Roger. “Birthday Suit: The Making of the Movie.” Fredericton: University of New Brunswick Libraries, 2007. Print.
---. “Quevedo Database.” quevedo.unb.lib.ca. 2014. Web.
---. “Towards A Chronology of Quevedo’s Poetry. Fredericton: York Press, 1976. Print.
(Primary sources compiled in part by the New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia.
Craig, Terrence. “Recent Poetry: Review of Broken Ghosts.” The Atlantic Provinces Book Review 14 (1987): 18. Print.
Everret, Greg. “Roger Moore.” New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia. Web. 4 Dec. 2015.
Higgins, Michael W. “Land of Paradox: Fredericton’s Roger Moore shares the tangible ethereal world of Avila where asceticism and mysticism join together.” Telegraph Journal 28 March 2009: G6. Print.
Moore, Roger. Personal Interviews. 22 February and 10 May 2012. Print.
Nowlan, Michael O. “Local poet lures the reader with wonders of Spanish city.” The [Fredericton] Daily Gleaner 25 April 2009: C4. Print.
O’Rourke, David. “Dirty/Beautiful: Review of Broken Ghosts by Roger Moore, Killing the Swan by Mark Anthony Jarman, The Natural
History of Water by David Donnell, and Troubles in Paradise by James Whittall.” Canadian Literature 120 (Spring 1989): 206-08. Print.
“Roger Moore.” University of New Brunswick Library. Web.1 Dec.2015
Vanderlip, Brian. “Review: Broken Ghosts.” Poetry Canada 9.1 (Fall 1987): 38. Print.