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Catherine Chandler 07-03-2019 11:15 AM

Stephen Edgar
For lovers of exquisite formal poetry, I urge you to read the work of Stephen Edgar.

John Isbell 07-03-2019 11:33 AM

A link worth clicking on, if like me Edgar's new to you. I read just "The Complete Works" - long enough, with a fairly mesmerizing interplay of meter, rhyme, and syntax.
I'd like some other format than white on dark blue though.


Julie Steiner 07-09-2019 11:30 AM

His poignant "Man on the Moon" (written near the 35th anniversary of the first moon landing) seems appropriate as we celebrate the 50th anniversary.

John Isbell 07-10-2019 07:24 AM

Yes, lovely. I like his "memorable scene." Thanks Julie - he is a gifted craftsman, like Richard Wilbur, and a fine storyteller like him as well.


Clive Watkins 07-10-2019 07:37 AM

He nothing common did or mean
Upon that memorable scene,
But with his keener eye
The axe’s edge did try.

Andrew Marvell

John Isbell 07-10-2019 07:49 AM



Clive Watkins 07-11-2019 09:30 AM

John, do you think Edgar hopes we will catch the apparent echo of Marvell, and, if so, to what end? Or is this just an accident of phrasing? After all, in itself the expression is ordinary enough.

By the way, I ought to confess that Edgar has never done it for me, though until the recent past I had two of his collections on my shelves. I find his rhythms flat and the underlying thought often banal. Now, Richard Wilbur is in a different class altogether.

Turning the page…


John Isbell 07-11-2019 10:01 AM

Hi Clive,

Hmm. To my ear, he definitely had Marvell in mind, though to what end I can't say. Good question. OTOH, I agree that if Wilbur had echoed Marvell, he'd have a good reason for doing so. His poems are limpid distillations of protracted thought. Or at least, that's how they seem to me.
I discovered Edgar in this thread. I do like the two poems I've read so far, but as someone, I forget who, noted, poetry is easy, thinking is hard.


Update: it was perhaps Richard Wilbur.

Mark McDonnell 07-13-2019 05:23 PM

Clive James clearly likes him and does some close reading here. And has a take on the Marvell echo. Good essay:

John Isbell 07-13-2019 10:44 PM

I picked up a James volume a few weeks ago and read it with less pleasure than I'd anticipated. Here, however, James compelled me to read every word. It's a longish close reading, but, precisely, fine work. I liked this line, for instance: "someone who either knows exactly what he's doing or else can control the process by which he doesn't, quite." Nice to be reminded of his gifts as well as Edgar's. Thanks Mark.


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