Alan Brownjohn

The Blackbird at the Window

Collected Poems

By

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An influential poet and critic who didn’t propose doing it himself once remarked that bringing together in one large, probably expensive book all the poems you wished to preserve from numerous slim volumes amounted to ‘putting your life on the line’. He supported what seemed a rather melancholy, even melodramatic view with examples of collected editions summarily scorned by critics, or merely ignored, in some cases also remaindered, with poets’ hopes and lives duly blighted. But the belief that a collected edition is required to set the seal on a lifetime’s achievement dies hard; and sometimes, publishing one will turn out to be the right, well-timed decision.

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