Chorale Essay

Kevin Young (poet)
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Holmes is a freelance writer and editor. In this essay, he considers the intersection of romance and religion in “Chorale” and other poems in Young's Jelly Roll: A Blues.

The opening lines of “Chorale”—“Quite difficult, belief / Quite terrible, faith” —are undeniably striking. The anaphoric use of the adverb “quite” immediately focuses the reader's attention on the seemingly negative adjectives that follow, “difficult” and “terrible,” and throughout the rest of the brief poem the echo of those words is felt, if not actually heard, in the mind of the reader. As for the nouns that close these two lines, “belief” and “faith,” either alone might bear various meanings, but in concert they certainly conjure thoughts of religiousness and spirituality. Indeed, a chorale is a churchly hymn or song; thus, the theme of the poem would seem to be concretized. Yet, beyond a later mention of “the elect...

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This section contains 1,572 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Chorale Study Guide
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