Human Bodies

Human Bodies collects the poems of the latter half of award-winning poet and novelist Marilyn Bowering’s illustrious career.

On the heels of her Governor General nominated Beach Holme title Autobiography, this collection also includes her earlier works Love As It Is, Calling All the World, Anyone Can See I Love You, Grandfather Was A Soldier and forty-five previously unpublished new poems. The first in our Canadian Classics Series, this is the perfect compendium for students of the next wave of Canadian verse.

From Anyone Can See I Love You, a gloss on the glamorous yet tragic life of Marilyn Monroe, to the launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik II in Calling All the World and the battles of the Somme and Passchendaele Ridge in Grandfather Was A Soldier, this collection is an astonishing tribute to Bowering’s boundless range. Equal parts cerebral and sensual, Human Bodies is a retrospective not to be missed and a must-have for every Canadian literature curriculum.

Beach Holme Publishing, 1999

ISBN 9 780888 783950


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Calling All the World

The dream of space, of traveling in space, has fascinated human beings for hundreds, probably thousands, of years. In the late 1950’s, with the launching of the first man-made satellite, the dream suddenly drew within reach. Sputnik I was launched into orbit around the earth on October 4, 1957. This even, in the midst of the cold war between the Soviet Union and its allies, and the Americans and theirs, inspired not just admiration, but terror. If the Soviets had this level of powerful rocketry (enough to launch the satellite) the reasoning went, then surely their ability to attack Western targets with propelled and guided long-range ballistic missiles had been seriously underestimated. I remember standing outside late at night with my parents to watch the satellite cross the sky, with just this mixture of fearful wonder.

The world’s second artificial satellite, Sputnik II, was launched on November 3rd, 1957. This time there was a living creature—a dog—Laika—on board; and this time the world watched with different feelings. Laika was an emissary, Laika carried humanity’s complex dream of discovery and adventure, of hope for something better and freedom from the burden of destructive human civilization with her. At the very least, we wanted Laika to make her journey into the unknown, and return.

We know that a number of the early space voyagers, animal and human, died—the whole story has yet to be told. Perhaps it wasn’t the right way to pursue the dream—certainly the fear of being left behind in the arms race subverted the more innocent passion for discovery and knowledge. But when Laika traveled in space the passion and innocence were there in full force; and so was the dream. It was this part of the dream—the courage and desire to link what is ‘out there’ with who and what we are—that I wanted to recall.

Calling all the world,
at eight o’clock today,
we were so far away,
and falling.

Riding through the stars,
the universe is ours,
locked in a metal world,
and falling.

Calling all the world,
to tell you where we’ve gone,
we’re on our way beyond
your imagining.

Calling all the world,
we’ve gone so far away,
much further than we’d planned
we’re traveling.

Calling all the world,
calling far form home,
we’re out here all alone
and falling.

Sailing on a sea,
invisible but free,
in cold, in dark,
in beauty.

Calling all the world,
at eight o’clock today,
we were so far away,
and falling.

Calling. Calling
S.O.S. The Whole World.

— Marilyn Bowering