Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Carol Ann Duffy & illustrated by Trisha Rafferty

Age Range: 11 & up

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-8050-4717-4
Publisher: Henry Holt

 A fine, imported anthology, subtitled ``Poems About Death and Loss,'' of simple but sophisticated poems about the mystery, grief, fear, and occasional gallows humor that surround death. Duffy, a well-known British poet, closes the book with the only work of her own that she has included, ``And Then What,'' after ushering readers through the works of the familiar W.H. Auden (``Funeral Blues''), Emily Dickinson (``Because I Could Not Stop for Death''), and Dylan Thomas (``Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night''), and less familiar (to young readers) but no less worthy poets, such as James Sykes (``How Can You Write a Poem When You're Dying of AIDS?'') and Michael Longley (``Detour''). The selections express many of the attitudes people have felt about death: awe, horror, pain, irreverence. There are some that are reassuring, addressing the imperviousness toward death of children who fail to recognize their own mortality (e.g., ``Dead Dog'' by Vernon Scannell: ``I can't remember any feeling but/a moderate pity, cool, not swollen-eyed/. . . My lump of dog was ordinary as bread''). It's unfortunate that there are so few notes on poets or the poems. Rafferty's black-and-white sketches add a light touch, while also capturing the tone of many of the poems. Fans of Duffy's earlier I Wouldn't Thank You for a Valentine (1994) will be equally satisfied with this collection. (index) (Poetry. 11+)