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The future is the only thing
That makes for thought, the past is past:
It brought its presents, had its fling,
But what is flung could never last.
The future has not lasted yet
Even the second that it can
And so is good for any bet:
It is the guessing makes the man.
Human uncertainty is all
That makes the human reason strong:
We never know until we fall
That every word we speak is wrong.
Antidotes, an outstanding collection by one of Britain's finest living writers, gathers the best poems C. H. Sisson has written since God Bless Karl Marx! (1987). Antidotes differs from his earlier books. A great many of the new poems are in rhymes quatrains, couplets and other strict forms, as though the seventeenth century, which marked his early work, had re-established its hold. The poems possess a sever explicitness of theme: Sisson considers old age - of a man, of a culture and its institutions - and the difficulty of the incarnate God. 'The price of every poem', he wrote long ago, 'is a twist of the knife'.
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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