Yellow Tulips: Poems 19682011 Hardcover – 7 Jun 2012
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'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
An unforgettable collection of poems from award-winning poet James FentonSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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 ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the best poets writing today. Likes to use rhythm in a similar way to Kipling.Published 2 months ago by JamesC