A new collection of pastiche poems refacing various lesser works of the English canon whose common thread follows the narrator's relationship with a prostitute.
In “The Hourglass Hostess,” the tone shifts between romance and sultriness without vulgarity (“I have sacrificed an hour for you; And four good posts within the red-lit room”); in “Helianthus and Hedera,” vulgarity is deployed sparingly in a dialogue between plants, a nun, and Mother Science. “To The Small Celandine” innocently likens a lover to a sprouting flower in bloom (“One so small and so very fair/ Like other flowers against the rain/ That shrink in close shelter, at rest/As the sun shines, come out again”). The narrator of “John the Baptist” inveighs against immodest dressing and working on the Sabbath, exhorting “all nations” to “reform your sinful lives this very day.”
This is a skillful homage to traditional English-language rhyming poetry. In fact, it hits the mark so well that it lacks the advertised modern twist; nothing in it will surprise fans of the poets it honors. Readers familiar with classic literature will delight in the gentle imagery and elegant meter of bygone days, but those seeking a new take on these older works may find themselves underwhelmed.
Takeaway: Fans of 18th-century poets will be thrilled to see a present-day writer accurately and vibrantly employ their flowery verse styles.
Great for fans of William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Wordsworth.
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