Donald Davie University of Chicago Press, 1991 Library of Congress PR6007.A667A17 1991 | Dewey Decimal 821.914
Donald Davie's poems are here arranged chronologically from the 1950s to the beginning of the 1990s. Taken together, the poems display that reverence for the distinctive qualities of the English language which has earned him a name as one of Britain's finest living poets.
"Davie's voice—judgemental, ironic, epigrammatic, humorous, self-lacerating—speaks always with reference to an unhuman perpendicular standard that itself goes unquestioned. It is not a standard of Beauty or Truth; Davie is a poet of the third member of the Platonic triad, Justice."—Helen Vendler, The New Yorker
"[Davie's poems] are on the quiet side, often casual and musing in mood and tone; determined to resist large gestures of assent or denial. . .Donald Davie may just be the best English poet-critic of our time."—William Pritchard, The New Republic
"Donald Davie's Collected Poems does more than mark the culmination of one of the most distinguished careers in post-war British poetry; it is the autobiographical journey of a living poet at the height of his creative powers and the mastery of his craft. Davie is considered the most important and valuable contemporary link between poetry in England and America."—Sarah E. McNeil, Little Rock Free Press
Here Davie, a writer attuned to both the changes of the modern world and a living literary tradition, turns to the lapsed poetic practice of translation and imitation of the Psalms of David. The result is a series of poems that speak powerfully of moral indignation and spiritual discovery within the complex of modernity.
"Few modern poets have managed to achieve Donald Davie's sense of human worth."—Times Higher Educational Supplement
Under Briggflatts is a history of the last thirty years of British poetry with necessary excursions into other areas: criticism, philosophy, translation, and non-British English poetries. It has grown naturally out of Donald Davie's immediate involvement with new writing as a poet, reviewer, teacher, and reader. He has reassessed the writers who have most engaged his attention, revised his reviews, and supplemented earlier material with much that is new. Under Briggflatts provides a narrative that is remarkable in scope and generous in tone. By combining close readings of specific poems and more general considerations of style, form, and context, Davie's account is characteristically elegant, precise, and uncompromising.
Under Briggflatts is organized in three large chapters, one devoted to each decade. In the 1960s, Davie pays particular attention to the work of Austin Clarke, Hugh MacDiarmid, Norman McCaig, Keith Douglas, Edwin Muir, Basil Bunting (the gurus whose prose writings helped catalyze the traumatic events of 1968), Elaine Feinstein, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Philip Larkin, Charles Tomlinson, Thomas Kinsella, and Ted Hughes. The second chapter follows these figures into the new decade and explores the work of (among others) Thom Gunn, C. H. Sisson, R. S. Thomas, John Betjeman, and such themes as women's poetry, translation, poetic theory, and the later impact of T. S. Eliot and of Edward Thomas. Perhaps the most controversial chapter is the third, in which David—without abandoning the poets already introduced—assesses Geoffrey Hill, Tony Harrison, and Seamus Heaney, and looks too at the recovery of Ivor Gurney's poems, at Ted Hughes as Laureate, the posthumous work of Sylvia Townsend Warner, the burgeoning Hardy industry, and the critical writings of Kenneth Cox.