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Selected Poems

Jonathan Swift

Edited by C.H. Sisson

Cover Picture of Selected Poems
Categories: 17th Century, 18th Century, Irish
Imprint: Fyfield Books
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (256 pages)
(Pub. Sep 1991)
£6.95 £6.25
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    All folks who pretend to religion and grace,
    Allow there's a Hell, but dispute of the place;
    But if Hell may by logical rules be defin'd,
    The place of the damn'd, - I will tell you my mind.
      Wherever the damn'd do chiefly abound,
    Most certainly there is Hell to be found,
    Damn'd poets, damn'd critics, damn'd block-heads, damn'd knaves,
    Damn'd senator brib'd, damn'd prostitute slaves;
    Damn'd lawyers and judges, damn'd lords and damn'd squires,
    Damn'd spies and informers, damn'd friends and damn'd liars;
    Damn'd villains, corrupted in every station,
    Damn'd time-serving priests all over the nation;
    And into the bargain, I'll readily give you,
    Damn'd ignorant prelates, and councillors privy.
    Then let us no longer by these parsons be flamm'd,
    For we know by these marks, the place of the damn'd;
    And Hell to be sure is at Paris or Rome,
    How happy for us, that it is not at home.

    Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) 'had a marvellous ear for talk and delighted in popular eccentricities of speech'. His poetry, usually the most neglected area of his prolific output, illustrates this among many other qualities. 'He is a social and sociable poet, not one given to solitary musing,' C. H. Sisson writes in his introduction. 'What is offered to the reader is a sample which illustrates the liveliness, humour and plain-speaking of this part of the author's work.' Herbert Read pointed out in his essay on Swift, 'Goldsmith said that Swift was the first poet who dared describe nature as it is, with all its deformities, and to give exact expression to a turn of thought alike dry, sarcastic and severe.' Dr Johnson, Macaulay and Thackeray were among the writers who found Swift too ferocious and indeed coarse for their tastes, but in this century his poetry has gained an ever wider readership among those attracted by its vigour and satirical inventiveness.

    This selection is edited by C. H. Sisson, the distinguished poet and translator, whose most recent work from Carcanet includes a collection of poetms, God Bless Karl Marx! and his version of Virgil's Aeneid.
    Table of Contents


    The Humble Petition of Frances Harris

    Verses said to be written on the Union

    Epitaph on Partridge

    A Description of the Morning

    A Description of a City Shower


    Horace, Lib. 2, Sat. 6

    Mary the Cook-Maid's Letter to Dr Sheridan

    On Stella's Birth-day

    A Quiet Life, and a Good Name

    Phillis, or, the Progress of Love

    The Progress of Beauty

    Epitaph on Demar

    'Dorinda dreams...'

    The description of an Irish Feast

    The Journal

    The Progress of Marriage

    Stella's Distress (lines 1-22)

    'In church your grandsire cut his throat...'

    To Quilca

    Advice to the Grub-Street Verse-Writers

    Clever Tom Clinch Going to be Hanged

    At the Sign of the Four Crosses: To the Landlord

    The Furniture of a Woman's Mind

    An Elegy on Dicky and Dolly

    Mad Mullinix and Timothy

    Tom Mullinex and Dick

    Dick, a Maggot

    A Pastoral Dialogue

    On burning a Dull Poem

    Traulus (the first part)

    The True English Dean to be Hanged for a Rape

    The Character of Sir Robert Walpole

    Verses on the Death of Dr Swift

    Helter Skelter

    The Place of the Damn'd

    Epigram ('Lord Pam in the Church...')

    'Deaf, giddy, helpless...'

    'Ever eating, never cloying...'

    An Epigram on Scolding

    Verses for Applewomen, etc.

    Jonathan Swift
    Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin in 1667 and attended Dublin University (now Trinity College, Dublin) gaining a BA in 1686. He was in the process of studying for a Masters when the Irish political climate in the wake of the 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688 forced him to decamp to England. ... read more
    C.H. Sisson
    Born in Bristol in 1914, C. H. Sisson was noted as a poet, novelist, essayist and an important translator. He was a great friend of the critic and writer Donald Davie, with whom he corresponded regularly. Sisson was a student at the University of Bristol where he read English and Philosophy. ... read more
    Praise for C.H. Sisson `His poems move in service of the loved landscapes of England and France; they sing (and growl) in love of argument, in love of seeing through, in love of the firm descriptions of moral self-disgust; they move in love of the old lost life by which the new life is condemned.'
    Donald Hall, New York Times Book Review
    'I think he is worth a place on the short shelf reserved for the finest twentieth-century poets, with Eliot and Rilke and MacDiarmid.'
    Robert Nye, the Scotsman
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