✍ Collected Poems [1999]

por Teoría de la historia

collected-poems-e-p-thompson-paperback-cover-artEdward Palmer Thompson (1924-1993) stands tall among social historians and in the pantheon of the British Left: The Making of the English Working Class (1963) made him a giant for the former, and his frequent political essays, books and pamphlets in the ’70s and ’80s gave him a commanding voice in the latter. Few of his fans will have known much of his poetry; this volume assiduously gathers it all, beginning with Thompson’s schoolboy verse of the early ’40s, then following up with his skillful, morally charged imitations of Auden, MacNeice and the Eliot of Four Quartets. From the early ’50s to the ’70s, Thompson wrote only six poems (the best responds with acid incredulity to the 1956 invasion of Hungary). High claims for his poetry will rest instead on two later sequences. “Powers and Names” (1986) turns the career and the archeological evidence of a malevolent Chinese Emperor into a general essay on politics, oppression and freedom; here his harsh language and storytelling cadences have a power like that of the late Ted Hughes. But Thompson’s best work is “Infant and Emperor” (1983), which retells the story of the Annunciation, the Nativity and the Flight into Egypt. Thompson uses a panoply of verse forms -stanzaic ode, mock-choral song, Blakean mystical narrative, metrical psalm- to make the story of the infant Christ yield meditations on politics, violence, ethics, religious sensibility and humanist hope. Readers who get past some obvious echoes of Auden will find in this sequence verbal subtlety and moral power: readers of English history and politics will want to know about the whole volume, which reveals yet another talent of this authoritative figure.

[PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. “Collected Poems. E. P. Thompson, edited by Fred Inglis, Bloodaxe Books” (reseña), in Publishers Weekly (New York), 1 de diciembre de 1999]