The Golden Underground takes its title from a section of Wallace Stevens’s poem “Sunday Morning.” Like “Sunday Morning,” The Golden Underground offers a blend of the mythic and the religious as award-winning poet Anthony Butts records his search for meaning and understanding in everyday life. In this profound volume, Butts observes the relationships around him, including those of families and larger communities, to give a fittingly down-to-earth interpretation of the golden rule. The Golden Underground continues Butts’s tradition of presenting spiritual ideas to the forefront of American letters with classicism and complexity.
Butts’s roots as a native Detroiter are evident as a great number of poems take place in various Michigan locales, including metro Detroit, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids. A mythic section revolves around a recurring character known as the Lady of the Lake, with the particular lake being Lake Michigan. The religious portion of the book concerns itself with ancient Celtic spirituality, when the Irish were some of the foremost thinkers in the early Catholic Church. In fact, each poem in the final section of the book, “Pygmalion,” was written after meditating at sung Taize services as the poet became involved with Celtic spirituality in the months following the September 11 tragedy. The Gospel According to John also finds its way into The Golden Underground in terms of the philosophy of good living found in each poem.
The Golden Underground is a book of peace, which continues Butts’s tradition of drawing seemingly disparate congregations of readers together in the enjoyment of verse. Fans of Butts’s previous work as well as general readers of poetry will enjoy this vital and insightful volume.