‘Selected Poems’ by Sylvia Townsend Warner ***

9780856355851I was delighted when I spotted Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Selected Poems on the shelves of my University library. I adore her prose, but had not previously ventured into her poetry, and was thus very excited to check the red-jacketed tome out. Claire Harman, Townsend Warner’s biographer, writes in her afterword that the poems here have been arranged thematically rather than chronologically, and span a fifty-year period.

There are many miniature stories to be found within the pages of Selected Poems. Whilst a nice enough collection, Selected Poems was nowhere near as varied as I was expecting it to be. I found that it lacked the sparkle and playful wit which I have come to expect from Townsend Warner’s books. There were no stanzas here which I liked enough to copy down, and there was a little too much written about religion for my personal liking. I shall have to sum up by saying that I found Selected Poems a little disappointing, and would have liked to see more about mythology and Medievalism in the collection.

I was thrilled, therefore, when I read about the New Collected Poems of Sylvia Townsend Warner whilst typing the above.  Its blurb reads as follows, and it is a tome which I certainly want to get my hands on to see how it compares:

The first “Collected Poems” of Sylvia Townsend Warner (1893-1978) was published by Carcanet in 1982. Since then, more of her work has come to light, including some of the most moving and personal poems she ever wrote. Claire Harman, the original editor and author of the prize-winning biography of the poet, has substantially revised the earlier edition, including over ninety previously uncollected and unpublished poems, with expanded notes, a chronology and an authoritative new introduction. When Harman’s Life was published, it restored Warner, one critic said, to her real place as ‘second only to Virginia Woolf among the women writers of our century’. With this collection, the extent of Warner’s achievement as a poet can be appreciated.

Purchase from The Book Depository


‘Selected Poems’ by Emily Dickinson ****

My goodness, it has been far too long since I last posted a review. I am pleased my first of 2014 is one I absolutely adored!

A beautiful present from Kirsty, I had never before read anything of Dickinson’s, and now I find myself wanting to read most and to subsequently scavenge for more of her work.Selected Poems, Emily Dickinson Her poems are incredibly beautiful — often quite short in length, yet impressively wonderful and extraordinary. Her themes can range from simple joys and passing happiness to more harrowing themes, and it was a pleasure to read through them all with her. My favourites are as follows: Compensation, Hope, Day’s Parlor, In The Garden, Mother Nature, The Railway Train, The Chariot and Parting, which is one I’d love to finish with:

“MY LIFE closed twice before its close;
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me

So huge, so hopeless to conceive,
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.”

I truly adored each and every poem, and I look forward to reading more of Dickinson in future. It is wonderful to start my reviews with a collection of such heavenly poems.


Flash Reviews (17th September 2013)

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan ****
I have been wanting to read this book for years, more so since I saw the film version with the adorable Logan Lerman cast as Percy.  I was a little worried that it wouldn’t be as good as I expected, but what I found when I began to read was an incredibly engaging novel, which swept me into its pages and refused to let go.  I love the way in which I, as a reader, was a character on the very first page.  The storyline throughout was intriguing, and the cast of characters marvellous.  I found the way in which Riordan combined Greek myths and historical events.  My only qualm was that Percy often seemed older than twelve, but in the grand scheme of things, that didn’t matter too much.  He was wonderfully angsty regardless.
Suggested accompanying playlist: ‘Fat Lip’ by Sum 41, ‘Papercut’ by Linkin Park, ‘Blood on My Hands’ by The Used, ‘Caribbean War Syndrome’ by Twin Atlantic

The Language of Flowers by Kate Greenaway ****
The Language of Flowers is such a lovely idea for a book, and it is beautifully presented.  Such a lot of thought and work must have gone into Greenaway’s research.  Her illustrations are absolutely lovely, as I knew they would be.  I imagine that this would be even more adorable in a physical edition (yes, I read it on my Kindle, illustrations and all), and would make a beautiful gift and a darling coffee table book.

Selected Poems by T.S. Eliot ***
I decided to re-read this book due to my love of <i>Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats</i> and April’s adoration and sparkling review of his poetry.  Eliot is a very shrewd and intelligent poet, and I would dearly like to read one of his longer collections.  My favourite poems were ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’, ‘The Waste Land’, ‘The Hollow Men’ and ‘Marina’.
Suggested accompanying playlist: ‘I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous’ by Frank Turner.  On repeat.