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Selected Poems

George Meredith

Edited by Keith Hanley

Cover Picture of Selected Poems
Categories: 19th Century, 20th Century
Imprint: FyfieldBooks
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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  • Lucifer in Starlight

    On a starred night Prince Lucifer uprose.
    Tired of his dark dominion swung the fiend
    Above the rolling ball in cloud part screened,
    Where sinners hugged their spectre of repose.
    Poor prey to his hot fit of pride were those.
    And now his huge bulk o'er Afric's sands careened,
    Now the black planet shadowed Arctic snows.
    Soaring through wider zones that pricked his scars
    With memory of the old revolt from Awe,
    He reached a middle height, and at the stars,
    Which are the brain of heaven, he looked and sank.
    Around the ancient track marched, rank on rank,
    The army of unalterable law.

    George Meredith (1828-1909) is best known as the author of The Egoist and Diana of the Crossways. His poetry, however, notably the poems from Modern Love, is emerging from long eclipse, and this selection reveals the diversity and originality of one of the most influential writers of his time.

    `His note was trenchant, turning kind,' Thomas Hardy wrote of him. The trenchancy was characteristic of his critical perspective on an age disoriented by a prosperity which had entailed severe moral and spiritual losses. The kindness was extended to those writers in whom he perceived excellence or the promise of it. Though he read for the bar, he turned for his living to journalism and to reading for the publishers Chapman and Hall. It was in these capacities that his influence was felt.

    In his introduction to this edition, Keith Hanley, Lecturer in English at Lancaster University, describes Meredith's distinctive naturalism and shows how the poetry is `designed to amplify and frame' these human values. `Only a few read my verse, and yet it is that for which I most care,' he said in old age. It is in his poetry that he invested most of himself, and over a very long period.

    Thomas Hardy, Robert Lowell and Tony Harrison are just three poets who have learned something from his emotional complexity and formal control. And the`Meredithian sonnet' has certainly not been exhausted as a modern form.
    Table of Contents


    Principal Editions of Meredith's Poetry

    Note on This Edition

    from Poems (1851)

       Song: Spring

    from Modern Love and Poems of the English Roadside with Poems and Ballads (1862)

       The Meeting

       The Promise in Disturbance

       Modern Love

       The Old Chartist

       I Chafe at Darkness

       Ode to the Spirit of Earth in Autumn

    from Poems and Lyrics of the Joy of Earth (1883)

       A Ballad of Past Meridian

       The Lark Ascending

       Love in the Valley

       The Orchard and the Heath

       Lucifer in Starlight

       A later Alexandrian

    from Ballads and Poems of Tragic Life (1887)

      King Harald's Trance

    from A Reading of Earth (1888)

       Hard Weather

       The Thrush in February

       Outer and Inner

       Dirge in Woods

       Change in Recurrence

       Hymm to Colour

    from Modern Love, A reprint, to which si added the Sage Enamoured and the Honest Lady (1892)

       The Lesson of Grief

    from Poems: The Empty Purse, with Odes to the Comic Spirit, to Youth in Memory, and Verse (1892)

       Night of Frost in May

    from A Reading of Life with Other Poems

      Song in the Songless

    Poems left unpublished

    In the Woods

    The Fair Bedfellow



    Love in the Valley

       (First version, from Poems, 1851)


    Selected Bibliography

    Index of first lines

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