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Edited by Michael Bradshaw
Categories: 19th Century
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (220 pages)
(Pub. Sep 2003)
Now see you how this dragon-egg of ours
Swells with its ripening plot? Methinks I hear
Snaky rebellion turning restless in it,
And with its horny jaws scraping away
The shell that hides it. All is ready now:
I hold the latch-string of a new world's wicket;
One pull and it rolls in. Bid all our friends
Meet in that ruinous churchyard once again,
By moonrise; until then I'll hide myself;
For these sweet thoughts rise dimpling to my lips,
And break the dark stagnation of my features,
Like sugar melting in a glass of poison.
To-morrow, Siegfried, shalt thou see me sitting,
One of the drivers of this racing earth,
With Grussau's reins between my fingers. Ha!
Never since Hell laughed at the church, blood-drunken
From rack and wheel, has there been joy so mad
As that which stings my marrow now.
Death's Jest-Book is Thomas Lovell Beddoes' long neglected masterwork, a revenge tragedy replete with murder, sorcery and haunting
After early acclaim as a lyric poet and dramatist, Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803-1849) began Death's Jest-Book in 1825, as he moved to Germany to study medicine. Initially conceived as a satirical tragedy unmasking the terror of death, the Jest-Book was the counterpart of Beddoe's anatomical researches.
This edition presents the Jest-Book in its early form, as Beddoes intended to publish it in 1829. It is the centre of Beddoe's achievement, a pastiche Renaissance tragedy replete with treachery, murder, sorcery and haunting, the extravagant expression of the poet's lifelong obsession with mortality and immortality. The drama contains some of the most powerful blank verse by any of the British Romantics.
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