Selected Poems

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 ...

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise for Out of Danger:

"[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

"What love of words . . . could fail to be delighted by these heart-wrenching . . . lines?" -Geoffrey Stokes, The Boston Sunday Globe

Village Voice Literary Supplement on Out of Danger

[Fenton] writes as no one else dares to--with clarity, wit, and the simplest of rhymes . . . Like Auden, Fenton displays enormous range.
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374260651
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 10/17/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 1,077,922
  • 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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Table of Contents

Author's Note

I. From The Memory of War and Children in Exile
Wind
A German Requiem
Cambodia
In a Notebook
Dead Soldiers
Lines for Translation into Any Language
Children in Exile
God, A Poem
The Skip

II. From Out of Danger
Beauty, Danger and Dismay
Out of Danger
Serious
The Ideal
Hinterhof
The Possibility
The Mistake
I'll Explain
In Paris with You
The Milkfish Gatherers
Jerusalem
For Andrew Wood
Out of the East
Blood and Lead
The Ballad of the Imam and the Shah
I Saw a Child
Tiananmen
The Ballad of the Shrieking Man
Fireflies of the Sea
Cut-Throat Christ
Gabriel
The Ballad of the Birds
I Know What I'm Missing
Here Come the Drum Majorettes!
The Orange Dove of Fiji
The Exchange
An Indistinct Inscription Near Kom Ombo

III. The Love Bomb

IV. Recent Work
Memorial
Yellow Tulips
Martine's Song
Everything in Your Window Is a Sign
Was That Your Idea of Love?
The Alibi
I Kept That Gun
Down to the Twigs and Seeds
Never Let Me See You Suffer

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