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Edited by Trevor Tolley
ISBN: 978 1 857543 52 0
Imprint: Lives and Letters
Published: July 1998
216 x 135 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
All saints revile her, and all sober men
Ruled by the God Apollo's golden mean --
In scorn of which we sailed to find her
In distant regions likeliest to hold her
Whom we desired above all things to know,
Sister of the mirage and echo . . .
from `The White Goddess' (1951)
To mark the poet John Heath-Stubbs' eightieth birthday, Carcanet publish his major literary essays. The earliest was written in 1945, the most recent half a century later. There is a notable continuity of concern and tact throughout the book: here is a poet who has not been distracted by the fashions and vagaries of the age from his vocation, which is to read deeply and to understand the very different terms on which every major writer wrestles poems from the language. These erudite, witty and considered pieces combine the insights of a substantial practitioner in all the poetic genre with the broad learning of a scholar-critic. They consider many of the great English poets from Spenser to the present day, as well as the Italians Tasso and -- one of Heath-Stubbs' passions -- Leopardi. In engaging his chosen writers Heath-Stubbs employs, shrewdly and accurately, his unique understanding of poetic process. He has an unusually vivid sense of the challenges and rewards of the sustained long poem -- epic, allegory and satire -- and an ear critically attuned not only to rhythmic but semantic nuance. His fascination with specific detail never distracts him from his sense of the larger project of the poem itself.
A.T.TOLLEY, the noted Canadian editor and critic, was born in Birmingham in 1927, studied at Oxford, and has taught at universities in Finland and Australia, and for the last thirty years at Carleton University in Ottawa.
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