Selected Poems

Selected Poems

by James Fenton
     
 

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Listen to what they did.
Don't listen to what they said.
What was written in blood
Has been set up in lead.
—from "Blood and Lead"

The leading poet of his generation, James Fenton has over the course of his career built a body of work breathtaking in its range and sensibility. From the passionate political poems that

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Overview

Listen to what they did.
Don't listen to what they said.
What was written in blood
Has been set up in lead.
—from "Blood and Lead"

The leading poet of his generation, James Fenton has over the course of his career built a body of work breathtaking in its range and sensibility. From the passionate political poems that launched him into fame to the intimate illuminations of love—and loss of love—in his later work, Fenton's poetry has always been marked by formal daring, wit, and an abiding empathy for the victims of war and political oppression. With selections from all of his published work since The Memory of War, the entire text of his libretto The Love Bomb, and new, previously uncollected poems, Selected Poems is an imaginative and formal tour de force.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“[Fenton] writes as no one else dares to—with clarity, wit, and the simplest of rhymes . . . Like Auden, Fenton displays enormous range.” —Village Voice Literary Supplement on Out of Danger

“What love of words . . . could fail to be delighted by these heart-wrenching . . . lines?” —Geoffrey Stokes, The Boston Sunday Globe on Out of Danger

Publishers Weekly
Proving there are still plenty of poetic miles left in rhythm and rhyme, as well as in Larkinesque cynicism, this career-spanning collection offers an introduction to the work of a leading British poet and former professor of poetry at Oxford. Love and menace are the principal muses for Fenton's dark wit. Whether describing how an ex is safe because she's no longer loved ("What belongs to the wind and rain/ Is out of danger from the storm") or narrating war's awful arithmetic ("One man shall wake from terror to his bed/ Five men shall be dead"), the control behind these lines is often terrifying. Many of the most powerful poems memorialize the lingering effects of war. Fenton has a knack for capturing awful thoughts and moments, which one wants to forget but can't:"...he forgot to say to me/ How an honest man should die." There's also a punch to the love poems; in one singsong piece, a husband commands his wife to be happy, or he'll leave. Also included is the libretto for The Love Bomb, in which a woman leaves her lover for a cult, then tries to recruit him. It's hard to argue with formal, deeply biting lyricism done so well. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780374260651
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
10/17/2006
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
673,412
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.48(d)

Meet the Author

James Fenton was born in Lincoln, England, in 1949. His volumes of poetry include Terminal Moraine, The Memory of War, Children in Exile, and Out of Danger. He was Oxford Professor of Poetry from 1994 to 1999.

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