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of Whale Songs in the Aurora Borealis


     After a short sabbatical, Ronda Wicks aka Eller has taken up pen and palette once again to step onto poetry's center stage and delight us all with Yeatsian whimsy, wonder, and ocean-deep wisdom. Her pen and ink sketch cover is a gripping revelation of the theme of the book: "Everyman" steps into the sea of being, flute raised defiantly over his head, to join his music with cosmic consciousness in the form of the great whale breaching, singing the eerie, ancient whale-song. The backdrop is aurora borealis, composed of the forces that clash and colour our experience in this ocean of incarnation.
     So much artistry unfolds in this book: Ronda's pen and ink sketches, the wind and water music inherent in the verses, the poetic insight into multi-dimensions of time, briefly mirrored manifestations of the spirits we are and might have been, all weaving a magic flute song that spell-binds you throughout the pages.
     The diamond-bright images, "jewels set in a radiant crown", "our diamond resurrection", "emerald sun", are enhanced by a uniquely gripping use of language: "black garment of premature morning", "my bleaching heart", "dappled with wax preachers", "gold-toothed fleece grinned", "impaled by consanguinity", "dust-drawn noose", "wing and wing spiked to a tree". Ronda has the honesty to speak of human impalement in time.
     There is a wisdom here, sketched on a Celtic harp, that the tide of time swells often as we ride the wave from cave to dreamt perfection. This book draws out the attraction of history, the pageant of the ages of man as we carry it all with us, and out of mirrors steps an embodiment of the one sought throughout eras.  The trick is to recognize him/her in the Now- "the force connecting here to there". Ronda uses the characters of history in the orchestrated tour, Shakespeare, Jesus, Gonne, Yeats, and a fascinating old astrologer Greystone. Greystone acts as shaman, taking us from one stage of revelation to the next.
     Sounds intrigue in many settings: "ethers of silence", "whisper of a heartbeat", "ears filtered for a whispering flay of wing tips", "a thorn-bird song in many ways." The title poem, Whale Songs in the Aurora Borealis, is a stunning slide through mythology, a subject as huge as a whale, whose eerie sound calls up the Aurora Borealis.
     All of our archetypes flare in it, until Pan/Ronda unites conflicting forces and "the whale song sang in me." Absorbing this is an enlightening change, the song of the universe resonates in every isolated seeker. In Crazy Mirror Houses, two sides of the poet's psyche converse, the flesh and spirit in self-discussion, and again in Sister-Brother-Sisterhood: "write these words inside your sleeve / you are the one that you believe."
     Reincarnation is a tantalizing thread explaining Ronda's flashes of past and present balance, somewhere a scribe, poet or songster eternally " chained to echoes", "immortals through each season's sleep."  Part of this thread is a fascinating twist: perhaps an interchange of gender complicates the journey, male and female bodies expressing love beyond gender, mismatched incarnations are possibilities to stretch your mind.
     Some mystic encounters so enjoyable and sense-piquing in Ronda's work will remind the reader of Hildegarde of Bingham's ecstatic musings: " gender and sorrow scarred my face", "like Jesus I was misplaced", "like Israel, tired and homeless."
     This book is a whale of a ride, encompassing dimensions of time and spirit. You will want to pick up your flute and follow the mystery of exploration that will lead you to your own inner music. Our archetypes and daemons are all here to confront you in a classic Celtic saga through the knot-work of a spirit sea.

Special Education Teacher, National Coordinator of The Canadian Poetry Association, Award winning poet, Author, Editor, Judge and Reviewer, Recipient of the Ancient Heart Award, Ancient Hearts Literary Review, Bristol, England 

Cover image of Whale Songs in the Aurora Borealis by Ronda Wicks Eller 2005

Cover Art also by Ronda Wicks

William Butler Yeats Ronda Wicks Eller

William B. Yeats / Ronda Wicks Eller

Kudos to Ronda Wicks for her book of Yeats-influenced poetry Whale Songs in the Aurora Borealis! It's as if WBY's imagery is alive again in a more contemporary and Canadian setting. Well done Ronda. :)

Douglas Lee Saum, Nevada, USA, Modern Folk Vocalist and Musician, Author of five Yeats music CDs

Click here for

Click here for Ronda's favourite


     From her opening poem, “Resurrection” to her final lines, Ronda's poetry is powerful, with exciting metaphorical use of language.  Her poetic energy springs from her word compressions.  These are poems worth studying!
     Ronda’s homage to Wm. B. Yeats is heard in these sample lines: “in the grieving escarpment of my Picloid heart/ that hammers against its lack of forgetting.” Her lush imagery uses archaic words and mythic dreams to float readers through time and space.
     I hope Ronda L. Eller keeps writing
… “then the whale song sang in me!”

English Professor, Poet, Author, Editor, Publisher, President of the Canadian Authors’ Association (Vancouver); Literary Chairperson for the Bowen Island Arts Council 

     Ronda Eller reawakens memories of William Butler Yeats in the overtones of post twentieth century Neo-Romanticism. Her portrayal of Yeats in “stands a Coole Park emerald seer with long legs swimming under mask” recalls the many masks of Yeats in Ellman’s "WB Yeats: The Man and His Masks". This poetess reaches magnificence of metaphor in lines like: ”or will it drill hoof prints in swan-soul down / to breed another Hippocrene Spring?”.   
     Ronda also captures the alchemical romance (expressed in the unity of the opposites) reminiscent of Yeats’ letters to Maud Gonne concerning his dreams of their spiritual union. Eller’s “sun on left, moon on right / weighing up the bride and groom” in “But a Dream” points to the spiritual marriage symbolized by the conjunction of sun and moon - the opposites. In WB Yeats’ “Letters” he wrote: “made evocation. Imagined myself a great serpent as in letter. We became one…then suddenly we were folded in a great mouse grey veil or shawl, shutting away the world…and I am day and sun and she moon and night.” A few days later on August 9, Yeats further developed the alchemical marriage as he imagined a “union of gold and silver flames” and “a ruby cross on his head … and a beautiful, still shining water with a swan upon it”. Eller may be the first of a new series of twentieth and twenty-first century poets that will capture the essence of WB Yeats’ spiritual marriage; the alchemy within his own soul uniting masculine and feminine archetypes within the complex imagination of modern poetics! 
     In another poem, Ronda writes “the white birds o'er the water form a halo / that if I knew not more would be angelic; / I save her vision as a sacred relic / to carry home and tuck beneath my pillow.” Yeats’ over-soul uttered forever in the symbol of the swan as the spiritualized sublime beauty of art is effectively echoed in Eller’s  “halo … that would be angelic …” In her final sections she successfully captures the tragic paradox of Maud’s rejection of physical marriage and Yeats’ final days with George, a woman half his age, who channeled symbols of his great “The Tower” and final poems to compete with the alchemical longings of the younger Yeats with Maud. How full, rich and succinct are these eloquent, final lines of “Whale Songs” in which Eller ends with this mystical evocation of WB Yeats’ “wayward and weedy eyes”. Simply unique and evocative of the character of Yeats in modern terms! 
       The shock of Maud’s marriage to a drunken officer is also expressed well in Eller’s climactic final poem: “With luck it may not hear as siren beckons it / to make its bed with lyre, song or listing flute; / opportunity tossed away, enchantment reckoned / and achievement lost for a pleasure-seeking brute.” 
     Welcome Ronda Eller, a true twentieth century traveler on Yeats' "Winding Stair"! 


Author of "Vision from the Bridge of Fire, The Journeys of Aeneas" in three books
with introduction by John T. Shawcross; "The New Cinema and the New Humanities" Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA    

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