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Review of Selected Poems - Elaine Feinstein, the Times28 July 2007
Thomas Kinsella is a long-established poet of a much older generation whose Selected Poems go back to the 1950s. He begins writing with the tune of Yeats's stanza in his ear;Previous review of 'Selected Poems'... Next review of 'Selected Poems'... To the 'Selected Poems' page...
Dread, a grey devourer
Stalks in the shade of love.
In the early books, what is bookish is often best.
We drifted in peace and talked
I opened the Cantos, and chose
the silken kings
Luminous with crisis.
With "Phoenix Park", however, phrases begin to strike home with an individual shock: "You lay still, brilliant with illness, behind glass."
And his autobiographical poems become altogether unsentimental. He remembers being sent to say goodbye to a dying grandmother, looking at a mouth still lined with ill-temper, and failing to kiss the dying woman.
In one of the most original of these early poems, a child is seen from the perspective of a battered cuddly animal, and so reminds us of the frightening volatility of human mood swings.
As the book progresses we make out a deep distrust of the human spirit: "The irreducible malice and greed of the species."
His flat propositions are irrefutable.
What is there to understand?
Time punishes - and this the
An Irish nationalist, who has spent mush of his life translating Irish poetry while teaching in the United States, his vision is as uncomfortable as Samuel Beckett's; most of the people in his poems are blown by:
a poverty of spirit in the
a shabby richness in braving it.
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