Conspicuously learned, even hermetic, lyrically dense and, at times, obscurantist, J.H. Prynne's Poems
is a difficult, strangely unnerving book. It not only presents the reader with a rare form of intellectual tourism; it also offers a textbook-clear lesson in the verbal trickiness and playful elegance of High Modernism. Deftly employing a range of reference-- scientific, economic, political and verbal registers, didactic, satirical, sardonic and sentimental--Prynne's collected poems reveal a complex extension of what normally passes for "pure" diction in poetry. Whether or not Prynne is trying to conceive of a poetry going beyond what can, or ought, to be meaningfully said, he treats words as ciphers of transfiguration, as steps on a journey characterised by scrupulous attentiveness. If these poems are neither transparent nor opaque, they are also determinedly elusive, always pointing to something else, beyond the consolations of communication: to peruse these poems in search of the grain of sand inside the pearl is to play by rules they refuse to abide (after all, poems are not onions to be pared away in transparent layers).While easily, and increasingly, seen as a questionable imitator of Ezra Pound, or Charles Olson, Prynne's poetic experiments are already at the limits of lyricism and of what passes for metaphor in contemporary Anglo-American poetry-limits to which we no longer need be enslaved. --David Marriott
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.