Brotherly Love is a long poem that evokes William Penn's luminous vision of America and shows what has become of it as the intractable conflicts of our history—struggles over the land, keeping faith with the Indians, the uses and abuses of power—threaten Penn's ideal.
Daniel Hoffman began writing Brotherly Love while he was Poet Laureate of the United States, in 1973-74 (the appointment then called Consultant in Poetry of the Library of Congress). Widely hailed, the book was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1981. It is adapted as the libretto for Ezra Laderman's music in the oratorio Brotherly Love, premiered by the Philadelphia Singers in March 2000.
"A beautiful and important book which has the markings of … a landmark in our culture."—Frederick Morgan
"I have never before seen such a connection between the historical and the imaginative, nor have I encountered in many a long day such a strong and pertinent lyricism within a larger dramatic compass."—James Dickey
"A spectacular achievement which handles brilliantly the mysterious relationship between spirit and flesh, history and vision, intent and act, dream and reality."—Anthony Hecht
"Though grounded firmly in historical fact, [Brotherly Love] is very original in conception and quite effectively expresses the dreams and despairs of those who lived this history as well as our own contemporary need to understand the past as 'we clatter down the rigid rails' into the future."—Library Journal
"Hoffman's Brotherly Love is his finest work, itself a trope of the city whose history it makes myth of, and redeems, urbanizing the wilderness of history and its fables. A grand poem in the American grain."—John Hollander
"An astonishing feat of historical and literary imagination."—Monroe K. Spears, Washington Post