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Opal Sunset: Selected Poems 1958-2008
     

Opal Sunset: Selected Poems 1958-2008

by Clive James
 

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Inspired, through his vast reading, by the poetic voices of the past, yet always speaking in a voice unmistakably his own, Clive James ineffably combines humor and great tragedy (but never solemnity) to create poems that are at once traditional yet engagingly fresh.
With this coruscating work, James, swimming through cultural debris both high and low, dispenses

Overview

Inspired, through his vast reading, by the poetic voices of the past, yet always speaking in a voice unmistakably his own, Clive James ineffably combines humor and great tragedy (but never solemnity) to create poems that are at once traditional yet engagingly fresh.
With this coruscating work, James, swimming through cultural debris both high and low, dispenses with his reputation as a perennial court jester, establishing himself as a poet of enduring power and resonance.
from "Angels Over Elsinore"How many angels knew who Hamlet wasWhen they were summoned by Horatio? They probably showed up only becauseThe roster said it was their turn to go.Another day, another Dane. Too bad,But while they sang their well-rehearsed lamentThey noticed his good looks. Too soon, too sad,This welcome home for what seemed heaven sent.

Editorial Reviews

David Orr
It isn't necessarily an advantage in the poetry world, especially the American poetry world, to be known for writing things that aren't poetry. We're suspicious of dabblers…on the whole this is a wry and pleasingly exacting collection. That fact alone will never establish whether Clive James is, somewhere down in the tangled strands of his DNA, a True Poet, but the work gathered here makes it plain that whatever James may be, he knows how to write poems worth reading.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Famous for decades in Britain and in his native Australia as an essayist, critic and television presenter, James has latterly gained attention in both those countries for his poems, long a sidelight, but now moving toward center stage. James's most memorable works include jokes ("The book of my enemy has been remaindered/ And I am pleased"), and he shows the ease and comic timing of a born performer in free verse and in easily rhymed stanzas. Yet he is not only a comedian: Philip Larkin, he says in an elegy for that poet, "didn't sound like poetry one bit,/ Except for being absolutely it," and James sets himself a similar goal. James evokes long-ago student days in Sydney or 21st-century scenes in London, along with male lusts, both absurd ("Bring me the sweat of Gabriela Sabatini") and touching (a May-December romance glimpsed in a train station). James's high profile may help win reviews, but his selection (not scanty or overlong) will win hearts and minds only if readers find in it what James finds in his favorite paintings: "Proofs that the incandescent present tense/ Is made eternal by our transience." (Sept.)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393067071
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
09/15/2008
Pages:
416
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Born in Australia, Clive James lives in Cambridge, England. He is the author of Unreliable Memoirs; a volume of selected poems, Opal Sunset; the best-selling Cultural Amnesia; and the translator of The Divine Comedy by Dante. He has written for the New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic. He is an Officer of the Order of Australia and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

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