Top positive review
17 people found this helpful
Insightful, moving, accessible, dignified
on 2 March 2004
Elizabeth Jennings is one of the last poets of lyric quietude, which is the only way I can think of to describe her calm yet passionate poetry. Being not that way inclined, I tend to stay away from her more overtly religious work, but love her everyday insights and moving lyricism more than any other poet I have read.
She often reserves the punch (and the telling rhyme) until the last two lines, making many of her shorter poems little ephiphanies of the everyday. She's not a million miles away from both Auden and Larkin, though without Larkin's bitterness or Auden's intertextuality; her poems can be enjoyed for themselves, without broad knowledge of The Tradition (or The Canon), though her fierce intelligence shines through every line, and a Jennings revival must surely be on the cards.
Many lines will already be familiar to you - 'Lying apart now, each in separate beds...', 'I have come into the hour of a white healing...', 'We pick at quarrels now...', 'So much of power is put into my hand...' - these words have a quiet resonation with many people who say they have not read any Jennings.
Deeply satisfying, hugely insightful, these really are poems 'of the human condition', expressing joy, loneliness, grief, regret, love, empathy and loss, with a very British dignity and reserve lending a calming restraint to the lyricism inherant the language.