Robert Wells: Selected Poems

Robert Wells, Frsl, Author Carcanet Press Ltd. $8.95 (95p) ISBN 978-0-85635-669-8
A key to the spirit of Wells's poetry is found in his excellent translations from Virgil's Georgics: ""O farmers would be happy too if they did not live/ In ignorance of their happiness.'' The idyllic and bucolic nature of his own work owes no little debt to both Virgil and Theocritus. The poems are set in a picturesque countryside that evokes the great English landscape painters. Highly stylized and somewhat static and artificial, they please primarily with their mouth-filling, rich linguistic texture. A classical convention rarely employed since Wordsworth, the pastoral in Wells's hands seems to reverse the romantic ascendancy of the ego in modern poetry. Here it is the life of nature that is the primary subject, with the insets of rural woodsmen, hay harvesters and contadini mere decoration to give focus to the poet's canvas. People appear only as a function of the force that vivifies the inanimate world. Americans should enjoy adjusting their own natural, loose speech rhythms to Wells's clipped, very British diction. (December)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1986
Release date: 07/01/2010
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