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Customer Review

I was seduced into buying this delicious little book by Eileen Shaw's review - she helpfully gives a full example of one of the probably less well known sonnets, and then (in comments, in reply to a question,) gives another

So if you want examples of some pretty damn stunning sonnets which may not be in your existing poetry collections - read her review for a couple of tasty samples.

The foreword to this collection is vivid and muscular, the least dry explanation of the evolution of the sonnet out there. Paterson's own visceral response to poetry is palpable and infectious.

The sonnets are ordered not by alphabetical author progressions, or by date; instead there is almost the sense of each sonnet, leading onto the next as part of a larger ordering of themes, so that the subject matters of the poems slowly progress - sonnets devoted to sexual love and praise of the beloved, sonnets which are almost physically sensuous in their devotion to praising the divine (nice juxtapositions of sonnets lingeringly describing kissing the beloved, to the first poem in 'the divine' series, a sonnet by Wilfred Owen describing kissing the Cross. And on.

This very subtle, personal but unexplained, un spelt out (by Paterson) ordering of the sonnets is itself a delight and revelation, so that one can have a very modern sonnet cheek by jowl with one of the very well known ones, and the progression of subject and neighbouring sonnets slightly change the way one reads the familiar sonnet - it becomes 'as though for the first time' once more

As another reviewer also notes, the 5 or 6 line notes on each sonnet right at the end of the book are excellent and illuminating - but utterly unobtrusive. Paterson trusts the sonnets, and the reader's personal experience of those sonnets properly, and does not forcefully insert his own interpretation of them onto yours. You have your own relationship with each poem, and can then choose to see, not a dissection of the poem, but the recounting of someone else's experience of it. He doesn't break the lovely thing apart, he leaves it whole, but maybe encourages the reader to look afresh or through different eyes.
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