The Silence

John Greening

£9.99

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Carcanet Press Ltd
27 June 2019
ISBN: 9781784107475
Paperback

From the publisher

The long title poem of John Greening's The Silence is a meditation on Jean Sibelius and the thirty years he spent grappling with an eighth symphony, which in the end he probably burned. The poem is emblematic of a broader concern with the mystery of the creative process, explored here in the work of other artists but also grappled with first-hand, in the composition of poems. The collection is haunted by other kinds of silence too, especially that most emphatic one (notably in Greening's witty formal verse letter, `Airmail for Chief Seattle' and an Egyptian sequence based on wall paintings in the British Museum), but at the same time it is open to the bright potentiality of the unknown, the beyond. A tribute to the late Dennis O'Driscoll is a bold meditation on hope, a mood intensified in a series of uplifting Hoelderlin translations. Elsewhere, Greening visits the Peak District, Brecklands, chalklands and a lost world of highwaymen and mythology beneath the runways of Heathrow, tuning in to the special music of each place. Along the way are striking individual poems on trees, penny coins, Hilliard miniatures, a coal bunker, a totem pole, the X5 bus route and musical migrating geese.