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Fortune's Prisoner

The Poems of Boethius's - The Consolation of Philosophy

Boethius

Translated by James Harpur

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Paperback
ISBN: 978 0 856464 03 4
Imprint: Anvil Press Poetry
Published: November 2007
197 x 130 x 8 mm
96 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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  • Description
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • An aristocratic scholar and influential member of the court of Theodoric, Boethius (born about AD 480) was arrested for alleged treason and executed in about 524. While in prison he wrote his masterpiece, The Consolation of Philosophy, a work of mixed prose and verse in which he considers universal issues such as the nature of justice, the problem of evil in a world controlled by God’s providential plan, and the workings of Fortune and free will.

    With his fresh and imaginative treatment of the poems from this book, James Harpur argues for the reappraisal of Boethius as poet. His well-crafted modern translations and persuasive introduction encourage their reading as a coherent poetic sequence outside their original context.

    Boethius
    Boethius (Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius) was a Christian philosopher. He was born in Rome to a distinguished family and became a senator by the age of 25. He was consul in 510 under the Ostrogoth kingdom. He was executed in 524 or 525 by King Theodoric the Great, who suspected him ... read more
    James Harpur
    James Harpur has had five poetry collections published by Anvil Press and is poetry editor of the Temenos Academy Review and a member of Aosdána, the Irish academy of the arts. His Angels and Harvesters (2012) was a PBS Recommendation and shortlisted for the 2013 Irish Times Poetry Now Award; and ... read more
    Awards won by James Harpur Winner, 1995 National Poetry Competition Commended, 2001 Tablet Book of the Year (Oracle Bones) Short-listed, 2013 Irish Times Poetry Now Award (Angels and Harvesters) Winner, 2009 Michael Hartnett Annual Poetry Award (The Dark Age) Commended, 2012 Poetry Book Society (PBS): Choice - Summer (Angels and Harvesters)
    Praise for James Harpur 'continues his visionary exploration of several themes... with precision, freedom, and authority.'

    Martin Caseley, Agenda: Ekphrastic Issue


    'This finely wrought, persuasive collection charts the difficulty of spiritual quest in a modern world, and reminds us how necessary it is.' 

    Hilary Davies, The Tablet  

        'James Harpur's poetry is moving, in the sense that moves, stirs something deep inside you, not just emotions or feelings, but more like a process of guided enlightenment.'

    Francesca Diano, Interalia Magazine
    'James Harpur's new collection, The White Silhouette, is a resonant, moving pilgrimage of great beauty, including a fabulous flash of Harpur's signature wry humour in his outstanding poem, Portora Royal.'

    Martina Evans, The Irish Times Books of 2018 list

     'Throughout the collection, Harpur's craft is both beautiful and subtle...The book's total effect is both complex and meditative.'

    Greg Brown, World Literature Today

      'Hapur has a flair for creating a compound of the everyday and the numinous; while the tone may be reserved and quiet, his imagination is dynamic; he comprehends the mystic without being mystical and demonstrates this through avoidance of the kind of solemnity that this kind of subject matter might draw to itself in other hands.'

    Gerard Smyth, Dublin Review of Books
        'I have rarely encountered a contemporary voice that brings out as strongly and convincingly as does James Harpur's in the The White Silhouette the way in which spiritual wrestlings and traditions can live again in poetry.'

    Michael O'Neil, The London Magazine

     'Harpur handles language deftly to offer an incisive exploration of the role of the sacred in art. His poems take their place in the ancient quest: the artist seeking purpose, where does meaning begin and artifice or artefact end? It is also a celebration of the power of the imagination to shape out experience.'

    Niamh Patwell, The Furrow

    'The reader of James Harpur's most recent collection repeatedly encounters lines of startling beauty and great suggestiveness...'
    Glyn Pursglove, Acumen
    'The White Silhouette is a triumph of spiritual word-wielding...The rhythm of Harpur's lines are so masterfully controlled, one is borne along on his voice; calm, careful and always drifting...Holy or not, these poems are for the spirit.'

    Joe Darlington, the Manchester Review of Books

    'Both these collections (Harpur and Deane's Dear Pilgrims) give the lie to the idea that it is no longer possible to think and write creatively and freshly about religion in modern poetry: both Deane and Harpur look back for some of their insights, especially biographically, but their poetry remains conspicuously watching, tasting and touching today's world.'

    Stride Magazine

    'I found the fragile, minimal pieces very moving and convincing: like the fragments described, they carry a weight far beyond their size'

    Stride Magazine

      'There is a deceptive clarity, an almost translucent surface to the poems which belies their complexity and ambition. These are poems in search of -- and in response to --the numinous, the sacred, but they never settle for easy pieties or shortcuts.'
    Michael Symmons Roberts and Moniza Alvi, PBS Bulletin
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