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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "My father's in my fingers, but my mother's in my palms...", 9 April 2013
This review is from: Being Alive : the sequel to Staying Alive (Paperback)
Being Alive has such a wealth of poetry, it's almost too much. I felt as if I'd stuffed myself with good things and ended up feeling slightly sick as I came on the end-poems and the sadness and joy (yes) of death. One must be allowed to be flippant at death which comes to everyone, and so the poem I want read out at my funeral is James Fenton's verse
"Death is the envy of the hicks
The last crap shot, the final fix
It is the burning of the ricks
Lovelier than sex, it
Beckons us home across the Styx
And we must exit."
This verse isn't in the book - the only missed one for me. There are better poems, of course, many of them gathered in this book, but death is a personal option when it comes to poetry. Some may need respect and withdrawn faces, I'd like someone to laugh, or at least smile, at my funeral. In death the only necessity is acceptance.
There are so many poems here of real worth, beauty and meaning. Pablo Neruda's beautiful poem about Horses:
"Their necks were towers
cut from the stone of pride
and behind their transparent eyes
energy raged like a prisoner."
Or take the wonderful sinister grace of Gwendolyn McEwan's poem Dark Pines Under Water:
"But the dark pines of your mind dip deeper
And you are sinking, sinking, sleeper
In an elementary world.
There is something down there and you want it told."
And what about the subtle packed punch of Anne Stevenson's poem The Mother, given here in its entirety:
"Of course I love them, they are my children
That is my daughter and this is my son
And this is my life I give them to please them
It has never been used, keep it safe, pass it on."
So many searching, ambiguous or completely open poems, Story of a Hotel Room by Rosemary Tonks, several poems by Sheenagh Pugh are especial favourites, Nostalgia by Billy Collins, two poems by Dorothy Nimmo, who deserves to be better known, Ophelia's Confession by Tracy Herd, the brilliant, confounding Bagpipe Music by Louis MacNeice, David Constantine's excoriating Pity The Bastards... I could go on, but better if I urge you to beg, steal or borrow this anthology and spend several months - just a few poems a day - going slowly through it to discover your own life in these pages.
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Location: Leeds, England

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