London: George Weidenfeld & Nicolson Limited, (1987). With full color Illustrations by Helen WIlliams. 0297792261. First edition. Black cloth covered boards, 8vo. 9-1/2" x 6-3/4". Spine stamped in gold. 374 PP. Fine / Fine dust jacket. Item #988
Song of Raymond, Christopher Tower's sixth book of verse, is an epic poem which explores the Muslim mystical belief system of Sufism. Sufism has as its central tenet the denial of the personality and the transcendence of God. Sufis believe that by quelling the self and concentrating all one's loving ardour on God, it is possible to attain a union with the divine in which the human self melts away. The story, set in the thirteenth century, follows the life of Raymond Lull, Steward of the Household to the King of Aragon. A frivolous, womanizing young man, he is transformed after seeing a vision of Christ into a devout Christian, and resolves to dedicate his life to the cause of converting Muslims to Christianity. He travels the world in pursuit of this aim, visiting the Pope and the King of France to urge them to undertake new crusades against Islam. While preaching Christianity in Tunis, Raymond meets Hadi Gelani, a Sufi mystic. Their discussions reveal much common ground, and it is finally through Sufism, and the martyrdom which he and Hadi share, that Raymond finds the one-ness with God that he has been seeking. Christopher Tower cleverly weaves original Sufi sayings into the dialogue in this fascinating and enlightening poem.