NEW AND SELECTED POEMS by Jon Silkin

NEW AND SELECTED POEMS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Silkin is a youngish (born 1930) poet who seems to have more partisans here than on his own soil. A. Alvarez, The Observer's influential critic, while excluding Silkin from his Penguin anthology, The New Poets, added a cautious note: ""Robert Lowell greatly admires the poems of Jon Silkin."" Indeed, a number of Americans consider him the most interesting of contemporary English poets. What constitutes Silkin's charm might be termed the New Simplicity. His themes are usually modest, whether they concern the ""sour children of London's poor,"" the delights of the countryside, marriage, or meditations on the past. The phrasing is clean, the cadence slightly syllabic or a variation on free verse, and the tone that of an unpressured immediacy. His best work has an almost transparent tenderness, as in the beautiful elegy about the death of his one year old son in a mental hospital, which ends: ""He turned over on his side with his one year/Red as a wound/He turned over as if he could be sorry for this/And out of his eyes two great tears rolled, like stones,/and he died."" There's a bit of the muted lyricism of Spender in Silkin, but his real roots connect with Lawrence. Not, of course, the Lawrence who ranted in doggerel, but the other Lawrence of Birds, Beasts and Flowers, or of the early autobiographical poems. Silkin does not have Lawrence's overall power, but his work is always moving, genuine, lovely. A distinguished collection.

Publisher: Wesleyan Univ. Press