Carcanet Press Logo
Quote of the Day
If it were not for Carcanet, my library would be unbearably impoverished.
Louis de Bernieres

Poems and Melodramas

Donald Davie

Cover Picture of Poems and Melodramas
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Author
  • Reviews

  • Tragedian of an Italy unborn,
    He cudgelled himself for having prostituted
    The buskin to the tiara; that's to say,
    His play to the scrutiny of the Holy Father.

    Later he learned how much more tolerant an
    Unpolished pontiff was, than a godless State
    That asked a theatre for Everyman,
    The man first dulled, then frivolously diverted.

    Later again (we look beyond him now)
    The buskin throve by dirtying -- the tiara
    And then the Cross; which lives by seeing how
    Unwearyingly the Father's sons revile him.

    'Alfieri', from 'Our Father'

    Shortly before his death in 1995, Donald Davie sent his publisher the poem 'Our Father'. This ten-part meditation broke a poetic silence which had stretched from 1988, when with To Scorch or Freeze, the writer declared his work as a poet finished. He continued to write essays and to add from time to time to his verse 'Melodramas', with their roots in Landor and Leopardi.

    It is clear that the Muse had not finished with Davie at all; a body of poems gathered sufficient for a remarkable book, extending the concerns of his late years -- concerns with 'the sacred', with England, and with our vexed age. In Poems and Melodramas his voice sounds with a humane insistence on clarity and definition, and the uneasy certainties of a faith hard-won.
    Born in Barnsley in 1922, Donald Davie served in the Navy and studied at Cambridge, becoming Professor of English at Essex, and later at Stanford and Vanderbilt. In 1988 he returned to England where he died in 1995. Carcanet's uniform Collected Works of Donald Davie includes Collected Poems (1990), Under Briggflatts ... read more
    Praise for Donald Davie 'He has drawn a map of modernism, starting with Hardy and Pound, that remains one of the definitive outlines of twentieth-century experiment in form and language. The mapmaker, in this case,is a notable locus on the map.'
    Helen Vendler
    `These poems thrive on the restless energy that drives their author on from form to form and place to place. Few poets are more likely than Davie to persuade new readers that poetry can still be a matter of concern and pleasure.'
    Martin Dodsworth, The Guardian
    'In his criticism, he has drawn a map of modernism, starting with Hardy and Pound, that remains one of the definitive outlines of twentieth-century experiment in form and language.'
    Helen Vendler
Share this...
The Carcanet Blog And a dog called Husband: Inuit creation stories read more Thinking with Trees: A book about leisure, Black bodies, and time read more B (After Dante): Ned Denny read more Alex Wong: Shadow and Refrain read more Jenny King: Moving Day read more Iain Crichton Smiths New Music: John Greening read more
Find your local bookshop logo
Arts Council Logo
We thank the Arts Council England for their support and assistance in this interactive Project.
This website ©2000-2021 Carcanet Press Ltd