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on 20 June 2012
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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on 16 June 2012
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.
And they believe anyone who saw them would know
Every secret of their limbs and of their lips

As if, like creatures of legend, they had come down out of the mist
Back to their native city and stood in the square,
And they were seen to be marked at the throat with a certain sign
Whose meaning all could share.'

If I didn't like the collection as a whole as much as I expected, I subsequently bought (and enjoyed) his prose work All the Wrong Places: Adrift in the Politics of Southeast Asia (Classics of Reportage). Maybe you will too.
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on 22 April 2017
Great collection of poems
Prompt delivery
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on 17 July 2016
overrated
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on 19 June 2013
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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on 26 October 2012
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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on 11 October 2015
I was very pleased to get a copy of a book of poems which contained a poem I was looking for to read at a public event.
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on 22 September 2016
Wonderful collection of poems. Found 'The Ideal' and 'In Paris with you' via this collection. So much to just adore.
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on 3 May 2016
One of the best poets writing today. Likes to use rhythm in a similar way to Kipling.
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on 17 January 2015
Beautiful language and genuine sentiment- the man is a poet
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