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In the Meantime
ISBN: 978 1 857542 56 1
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: October 1996
215 x 136 x 10 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Touch. How much it starts and how much ends.
Each sacrament demands it and all love,
Whether of passion or the play of friends,
Asks for its use. It started this world off.
The touch of God and all the universe
Stirred into being at its every move.
Eden -- the potent tale of our reverse,
Was darkened by the picking of a fruit
When the touch was disobedient. Its curse
Spoilt touch and yet it also somehow brought
God-Man to us and put him at our will.
Touch can demonstrate an arcane thought
And love surrenders when its power goes still.
Elizabeth Jennings turned seventy the year this was published. This book of poems is graced by a firm wisdom and achieves moments of religious and individual serenity. In the Meantime strives to come to terms with losses, with failure, loves, and most of all with time. It celebrates, too, the ways of nature, and her sorrow and anger for the suffering of others is informed by her own experience, her own loves.
Her previous book, Familiar Spirits, was concerned with memory; here her eyes are on the present and the future, and memory touches her as potentiality. In the Meantime includes sonnets, lyrics, and experiments with free verse, the stanzas always shaped by a pressure of feeling.
Praise for Elizabeth Jennings 'Anyone who likes poetry will love it if you get them Carcanet's Collected Poems of Elizabeth Jennings. It costs a bit but you do get well over 1,000 poems, with barely a duff one; heck, you could even give it to someone who doesn't like poetry, and suggest it will change their mind.'
Nicholas Lezard, the Guardian, 1st December, 2012
'But there is no sterility here: I defy you to read "A Living Death" and not be on the verge of tears by the end of it ("I am caught up / Within a death that does not die") This is a supremely dippable-into book. Its bulk is liberating, not intimidating.'
Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian, Tuesday 3rd April, 2012.
'it contains some of the finest lyric poetry of the 20th century'
Anne Stevenson, The Sunday Times, September 14th 1986
'in an agnostic age it is daring to write poems of religious rhapsody and more daring still to write as if the making of poems were a sacred activity.'
James Aitchison, The Glasgow Herald, May 7th 1989
'Her poetry ... conveys a strength of feeling and sincerity that few contemporary poets can match.'
Tom Velickovic, The Bookseller, September 16th 1994
'a pleasure, as well as a poetic education, to read'
Gwyneth Lewis, Poetry Review, Volume 84 no 4, Winter 1994
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