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Yellow Tulips: Poems 1968-2011 [Paperback]

James Fenton
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 April 2013

Winner of both the Queen's Gold Medal and the Whitbread Prize for Poetry, James Fenton has given readers some of the most memorable lyric verse of the past decades, from the formal skill that marked his debut, Terminal Moraine, to the dramatic and political monologues of The Memory of War and Children in Exile, through to the unforgettable love poems of Out of Danger and his most recent work: Poems is an essential selection by, as Stephen Spender put it, 'a brilliant poet of technical virtuosity'.

Don't talk to me of love. I've had an earful

And I get tearful when I've downed a drink or two.

I'm one of your talking wounded.

I'm a hostage. I'm maroonded.

But I'm in Paris with you.

From 'In Paris With You' by James Fenton

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (4 April 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0571273831
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571273836
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 5.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 69,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'No other contemporary British poet has written so powerfully about conflict and atrocity in lyric poetry.' --Patrick McGuinness, Guardian

'James Fenton is the greatest living equal of W H Auden. Their prime subjects are the absurdities of politics, the obscenities of war and the agonies of love. Yellow Tulips is Fenton's own selection of poems from three previous collections and more recent work. It includes many of his greatest hits.' --Telegraph

'A handsome paperback that belong[s] on the shelf of every poetry lover' --Fiona Sampson, Independent Books of the Year

'Contains old and new poems from one of our greatest poets. His world view is one of wry scepticism, and his poems are beautifully crafted.' --Joan Bakewell, Mail on Sunday Books of the Year

'A keen observer, [Fenton's] poetry excels in the minute description, and the audacity of a rhyming phrase ... A compelling poetic voice.' --The Economist --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

An unforgettable collection of poems from award-winning poet James Fenton

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book. 20 Jun 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I absolutely loved this book. It's rather disappointing for one such as I who discovers a poet such as Fenton, only to find most of his books
are either out of print or so unpopular even libraries don't stock them.
This is a pretty good overview of his poetic works over the course of 40 years and serves as a good introduction to his work. It does not go deeply enough that one can say, "OK, I know him now" but it is enough for a English student such as I get to use for academic work.
He is certainly one of the best living poets of the English language and is massive inspiration for me to write also. If you had heard a reading of "The Skip" on-line as I did, and wanted to hear or read more, than get this first edition of his collected works.
The added bonus being this lovely edition comes in hardback, in the style which only FF produces. I imagine FF will follow this up in a few years with Fenton's critical essays, works and well, if he has a short story or two I would not object to it.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite 8 Jun 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful collection from a man rightly described as the most talented poet of his generation. 'Yellow Tulips' is divided in a roughly chronological way, offering poems from every part of Fenton's writing career. It contains his wonderful classics - 'Wind', 'The Skip,' 'In Paris with You' - as well as the stirring political pieces first seen in 'Children in Exile' and 'The Memory of War'.

As always, the poetry is fantastically ranged from observations of the minutiae of life and emotion to the scale and horror of battles across the world. 'Yellow Tulips' also includes some previously uncollected poems written more recently, almost all of which match the exact standard of excellence we expect of Fenton. 'Memorial' in particular - a poem reflecting on the deaths of translators, drivers etc. who accompanied Fenton in his war travel - was breathtaking.

The physical book itself is also lovely - a brown hardback with the tasteful dust-jacket shown in the image above. It is up to the usual aesthetic standards of Faber & Faber.

A 5* purchase, providing the ideal level of access to a much under-rated poet in recent times. Everyone should own a copy to sit alongside the equal greatnesses of Larkin, Auden and all others who, like Fenton, are true masters of poetry in the English Language. Wonderful.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "This is the ideal. This is hard." 16 Jun 2012
By Ryan Williams VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was the first book by James Fenton that I've purchased. I'd heard of him through various sources (Clive James' memoirs, The Faber Book of Reportage, Zachary Leader's biography of Kingsley Amis.) Now Fenton has graduated to the status of Faber poet - previously he was published by Penguin - the time seemed right to check him out.

How did it go?

For all the tests you can put verse through, I have a simple one: read the book once, slowly, then put it down. An hour later, see which poems you can remember, or which lines remain the most vivid. (Call this the Williams Test.) I found I remembered the later poems most, and noted how they seemed to flow more smoothly than the earlier ones, make their points more clearly. I should add that 'God, A Poem' was the sole, witty exception - which is a useful poem for fellow atheists to commit to memory:

'I didn't exist at Creation,
I didn't exist at the Flood,
And I won't be around for Salvation
To sort out the sheep from the cud-

'Or whatever the phrase is. The fact is
In soteriological terms
I'm a crude existential malpractice
And you are a diet of worms.'

Particularly, I liked 'The Ideal', 'Tiananmen', 'Blood and Lead', 'Jerusalem'. In spite of its weak last two stanzas, special mention goes to the collection's beautiful title piece, 'Yellow Tulips', which hits all the same high buttons as Les Murray's masterpiece 'The Broad Bean Sermon':

'They have come out of the wood now. They are skirting the fields
Between the tall wheat and the hedge, on the unploughed strips.
Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful 19 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A collection of thoughtful, gentle and up to date poems which I am enjoying for the first time. Stumbled across this book from a friends recomendation, glad I tried it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A master's masterly retrospective..... 26 Oct 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
James Fenton has a claim, respected by many, to be the greatest living British poet and must surely be in line to be chosen Poet Laureate before too long. This fine collection moves and disurbs......elicits joy and laughter with occasional tears and sorrow. His feelings are deeply set and emerge with articulacy and poetic simplicity on every page. A rare and valuable collection, keep close by.

Graham Benson
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