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Some Times

Harry Guest

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This title is available for academic inspection (paperback only).
Paperback
ISBN: 978 0 856464 25 6
Imprint: Anvil Press Poetry
Published: November 2010
216 x 138 x 10 mm
104 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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    Thom Gunn 1929–2004

    We last met outside Charing Cross by chance,
    your cowboy boots contrasting with my own
    scuffed suèdes. Cambridge post-war seemed far away
    (Dadie v. Leavis, Chequer, tea with Karl)
    though oddly less so later when the oracles
    deigned to reveal their flip-side.
                                                                       With dismay
    I came to learn how, on that boring Coast,
    you had succumbed to drug-abuse – for that
    diminishes a man and you had stood
    (in lofty footwear) for the classic values
    of rigour, dedication to the task,
    a legacy adapted early on
    from Wyatt’s masculine diplomacy.
    You wrote of sex too as if Attic warriors
    just tussled playfully – but never shirked
    gauging the chill of anonymity till fear
    brought out imaginary beads of venom
    in the small hours.
                                            You stay in memory
    as generous and unaffected, your talk
    glinting with merriment, your work
    inventive, knotty, scrupulous.
                                                                   It’s hard
    to feel you’re gone like Hughes, like Redgrove. Since
    the Fifties you were always there. At least
    each poem wryly wrought will carry on
    flexing its sinews for us when we scan.
    I know you know we know how good they are.

    Memory, including the tricks it plays, is this book’s overriding theme. The poems seek to revive happy, confusing, sad and celebratory times over more than half a century, from affairs in distant youth to the credit crunch. They recall friends now beyond known life, misinterpretations giving rise to comedy, epiphanies like a newborn calf or the shock of a painting, and hours dedicated to translation or literary experiments. The book, which also includes translations of some favourite modern poems, tries to come to terms with time itself.
     

    Harry Guest was born in Penarth, Wales in 1932. He read Modern Languages at Cambridge before beginning a career as a teacher in schools and universities in Japan and England. He edited and translated Penguin’s Post-War Japanese Poetry (1972). Recent books include a novel Lost Pictures and Traveller’s Literary Companion to ... read more
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