The Body of Liberties

The Body of Liberties

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Author: Peter Gurnis

Publisher: Burning Deck (1987)

Edition of 500

A poem sequence which takes its title from the First Body of Laws (1641) of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It draws on such diverse texts as captivity narratives, histories of the Indian Wars, personal letters, court and town records, and Remarkable Providences. The fractured form maintains the integrity of the sources and the reading process. It does not subsume the several voices under one "poetic" voice, but allows them the space and silence through which to approach us. It is an attempt to allow the Other to speak, and not to presume to speak for it.

"Gurnis reconnects us to New England's rich past by collage and appropriating language. Rather than a history lesson, we are give an valuable look at our current state. With remarkable clarity, [he] contracts imagined time and expands our matrix for understanding."

–Peter Gale Nelson