Morning Knowledge

Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart is not only one of Australia’s most important poets but a major figure in world poetry. He is a visionary writer who has taken his bearings as much from English Romanticism and European Modernism as from the Bible, Plato, and Meister Eckhart.

In Morning Knowledge, Hart grieves the passing of his father, while continuing his unique interlacing of the spiritual and the sensuous. These poems are dual in nature and inspiration, embracing the pain and passion of humanity at the same time as they evoke the immanence of God in the world. A book of elegies and love poems, prayers and lullabies, a book in which poems sing about a museum of shadows and about rats and afternoons, all wrapped in quatrains, Morning Knowledge is a major book by a poet read and loved throughout the world.

Kevin Hart teaches at the University of Virginia. He is the author of nine volumes of poetry, including Young Rain (University of Notre Dame Press, 2009).

“This latest volume—in what must now be called the oeuvre of Kevin Hart—features a characteristically spare and yet richly evocative voice that reaches out to us and touches that place of silence within where poetry begins and often, in the hands of a master, ends. As in Thoreau’s inflection of the phrase, ‘morning knowledge’ can entail mourning, but there is equally a celebration of life here that affirms the place of poetry in our world and the place of Kevin Hart in the world of poetry.” — Paul Kane, Vassar College

“These poems, with a verbal music that is wonderfully sensuous, even entrancing, and a meaning that so purposefully evades the grasping mind it stimulates, are Kevin Hart’s best so far. They reveal a poet deeply in tune with the mystical light and shadow playing over everyday experiences and leaving something of the same ‘morning knowledge’ that never quite faded for Wordsworth or Thoreau.” —Geoffrey Hartman, Yale University

“The most outstanding Australian poet of his generation. . . . One of the major living poets in the English language. . . . Kevin Hart is an erudite poet, but converts his learning into passion. He is a visionary of desire and its limits.” —Harold Bloom, Yale University


“Spiritual yet visceral, learned yet passionate, Australian poet Kevin Hart’s work occupies a special place in the libraries of poetry readers throughout the world. . . . Shrouded in hope, Morning Knowledge sees Hart mourning his father’s death while carrying on a decades-long project of distilling matters of the spirit and heart into rich and contemplative poetry. . . . Morning Knowledge is Kevin Hart at his peak, alive with deeply lived experience and persistent joy.” — Readings Monthly

“Redemption and hope are the moving forces throughout Morning Knowledge, always present, whether in the simple pleasures and small dignities of life or the larger questionings and confrontations of death.” — The Australian

“Kevin Hart’s ninth book of poetry, Morning Knowledge, is equal parts taut sinew, sun-drenched eroticism and elegiac grace. In 60 exquisite, bracing, death-soaked poems, he stands like a surveyor on a peak—looking back into the past (his late father; early loves; the lush radiance of the lost Queensland of his youth), all around him in the present (crystalline meditations on being in the world; domestic pleasures; nature outside the window) and forward into the future (his own mortality and, coming full circle, the death of his father), culminating in the searing title poem. “Some words are dipped in silence for a while,” he writes, elsewhere. This is the work of a grand poet who knows how to inhabit silence.” — The Sydney Morning Herald

“The key event behind many of these poems is the death of the poet’s father, a subject to which Hart turns frequently in this volume but which he balances with memories of his Australian childhood and his family, meditations on the passing seasons, spiritual reflections in verse, and even elegies on rodents. Though his tone is generally serious, the somberness of his poems is often interwoven with welcome wit.” — Religion and the Arts