From one of the most important British poets at work today comes a brilliant new collection that meditates on human battles past and present, on youth and age, on monsters and underdogs, on the life of nations and the individual heart.
In Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus the Corduroy Kid, we meet a writer who speaks naturally, and with frankness and restraint, for his culture. Armitage witnesses the pathos of women at work in the mock-Tudor Merrie England coffeehouses and gives us a backstage take on the world of Oliver Twist and the Artful Dodger. He makes a gift to the reader of the sympathy and misery and grit buried in his nation’s collective consciousness: in the distant battle depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry and in the daily lives and petty crimes of ordinary people. In poems that are sometimes lyrical, sometimes brash and comic, and full of living voices, the extraordinary and the mythic grow out of the ordinary, and figures of diminishment and tragedy shine forth as mysterious, uncelebrated exemplars. Armitage tells us ruefully that “the future was a beautiful place, once,” and with a steady eye out for the odd mystery or joyous scrap of experience, examines our complex present instead.
AFTER THE HURRICANE
Some storm that was, to shoulder-charge the wall
in my old man’s back yard and knock it flat.
But the greenhouse is sound, the chapel of glass
we glazed one morning. We glazed with morning.
And so is the hut. And so is the shed.
We sit in the ruins and drink. He smokes.
Back when, we would have built that wall again.
But today it’s enough to drink and smoke
amongst mortar and bricks, here at the empire’s end.
From the Hardcover edition.
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