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Revolutionary Sonnets and Other Poems
Edited by Kevin Jackson
ISBN: 978 1 857546 16 3
Categories: 20th Century
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: November 2002
216 x 135 x 10 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Sick of the sycophantic, singing, sick
Of every afternoon's compulsory games,
Sick of the little cliques of country names,
He let the inner timebomb start to tick,
Beating out number. As arithmetic
The plot took shape - not from divided aims
But short division only. Then, in flames,
He read: 'That flower is not for you to pick.'
Therefore he picked it. All things thawed to action,
Sound, colour. A shrill electric bell
Summoned the guard. He gathered up his faction,
Posied on the brink, though, and created hell.
Light shimmered in miraculous refraction
As, like a bloody thunderbolt, he fell.
from Five Revolutionary Sonnets (1966)
Redesigned and reissued in 2017 to celebrate the 'Burgess Centenary' - 100 years of Anthony Burgess
Revolutionary Sonnets and Other Poems captures the full range and achievement of Anthony Burgess's poetry and verse. It is as daring, original and inventive as the name suggests. The work explores themes of violence and love, pretensions and emotion, sex and war and is both sobering, and hysterically funny.
The author of major novels, essays and reviews, the lecturer whose dazzling take on T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land changed our reading of the poem, is - like Eliot himself - a prosodic genius and a musical aficionado. Here are extracts from Burgess’s translations of the librettos of Carmen, Oberon and others; of verse dramas including Cyrano de Bergerac, Oedipus the King, Chatsky; and his original musicals Trotsky’s in New York!, Mozart and the Wolf Gang and A Clockwork Orange: A Play with Music among others. Here too are his wonderful translations of the Roman dialect poet Giuseppe Belli, extracts from his verse epic Moses, the complete poems of F. X. Enderby, occasional poems for Vladimir Nabokov and Ogden Nash... And we encounter the poems of young John Burgess Wilson, from the Manchester student journal The Serpent. Add to this the autobiographical poem ‘The Sword’, his New York Times verses about the Apollo II moon landing, a verse fragment from his abandoned novel It is the Miller’s Daughter - his fans and new readers will be left with a sense of the scale, wit and accomplishment of one of the great creative originals of the twentieth century.
Praise for Kevin Jackson 'This is the rare kind of book that you get fed up of quoting (there is so much) and simply end up buying for people. Carcanet should certainly be congratulated for publishing such a treasure trove and Jackson ordered by higher powers to keep producing books like it.'
Mark Thwaite, ReadySteadyBook.com 'A cabinet of curiosities in which every neatly lettered drawer reveals, reflected in a tiny mirror, the talking head of the prodigiously informed Kevin Jackson (or his smirking doppleganger, Dr Hannibal Lecter). Skeletal, perfectly formed lecturettes forge a secret biography of the author's obsessions: Blake, Dante, Freud. A mad Arcimboldo project with the answer to everything. Here is the antidote to all previous stocking-filling miscellanies. Buy one for all your friends and enemies. And welcome to the labyrinth.'
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