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Vain Empires

By (author) William Logan
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Peterloo Poets, Calstock, United Kingdom
Published: 28th Feb 1998
Dimensions: h 210mm
ISBN-10: 1871471524
ISBN-13: 9781871471526
Barcode No: 9781871471526

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Kirkus US
Logan's fourth book of carefully crafted verse picks up some of the themes of his last (Sullen Weedy Lakes, 1988): the folly of empire, the vanity of political ambition, the hypocrisy of established religions. A master of historical anecdote, Logan reaches from ancient Rome, where Pliny the Younger writes of his uncle's death from the volcano at Vesuvius, to modern Zimbabwe, where a British spook changes allegiances with the shifts in power. In between, van Gogh delivers a stem sermon, in stark colors, on sin and self-abasement ("Van Gogh in the Pulpit"); a Renaissance prelate regrets his role in burning witches ("The Burning Man"), and a medieval abbot prophesies an age of evangelism, and is proclaimed a heretic ("Joachim of Fiore"). Logan's virtuosity reveals itself in poems that mix high and low, sacred and profane to witty, even epigrammatic effect. His long tour de force - Keats's observations on a trip to India, had he lived - is typically learned and allusive, without ever being academic or dry. And his flights of fancy, domestic and classical, represent a triumph of impersonality, a poetry of statement that harbors not a single shallow thought. (Kirkus Reviews)