HONOLULU, Hawaii, January 15, 2015 – Those of you with social media accounts like Instagram or Facebook are probably familiar with those PSA styled, “self-help” image macros that say obnoxious things like “The most successful people in the world read more than 30 books a year and attend 15 conferences.” Yeah, yeah, yeah. Last year I completed my second doctorate at age 34 and I’m so tired of reading books from burnout that anything put in front of me needs to be the best of the best of the best – with honors!
Enter poet William Rome’s newest book The Legend of the Great Trek. Channeling the ancient tradition of didactic epic poetry, Rome presents the story of a prince who receives an oracle on the cusp of the destruction of his empire. Inspired by the supernatural vision, Prince Andries leads a chosen remnant from a betrayed nation into the wilderness where they clash with barbarian forces before finding a new promised land.
Writing a book and especially writing poetry in our modern age is one of the most challenging projects an author can take on. Since early to mid 20th century Western educators created a humanities bench largely based on the three legs of Ancient Greek writings, Judeo-Christian Bible scriptures and the plays of William Shakespeare, all if not most of today’s adult readers in the U.S. are already biased in their perceptions of what they think poetry should be. We political psychologists like to call that the primacy side of the Serial Position Effect.
Poetry is also a difficult art to master for the writer because it requires harnessing a very different energy than conventional creative writing. I personally would need the technological assistance of a metronome clicking away in the background to write anything poetic beyond a few verses, but Rome accomplishes the stellar task of combining epic poetry with adroit, hidden-in-plain sight editorials about modern Western decline encapsulated in an ancient setting.
In Rome’s story we see moral lessons about the importance of national identity, fealty (which is allegorically used as a device representing ideological/spiritual purity), courage and most importantly of all, a willingness to boldly pursue new horizons. The Legend of the Great Trek delivers a very rapid summary of the political history of the West encoded in its verses, demonstrating how great nations are often undermined by the indecisiveness of old leadership and how barbaric, external agents of chaos have a viral effect in hijacking the moral conscience of the people as a whole.
The Legend of the Great Trek is an extremely enjoyable, quick read that delivers a very artistic, sentimental perspective on world history and offers a discerning message about the proper role of honor and strength in defending the Western way of nations. Definitely consider adding this book to your reading list this weekend.