There are worlds within our own in which even the smallest victories are hard won, the tender moment is almost unbearable, and the understated rings like a bell. Belonging, a new collection by British poet Dick Davis, is an extended visit to these worlds.
Deepened by his dry wit and the formal rigor of his verse, the poems of Belonging negotiate their way among personal and political dividesâ€”generations in a family, man and woman, and the tentative present and our inherited pasts.
But behind much of the writing there is also a desire for a kind of idealized belongingâ€”to a clerisy of civilized and humane decency which can be found intermittently in all cultures and is the monopoly of none. Davisâ€™s own cosmopolitan background provides the context for many of the poems, yet he is concerned always to Wnd the humanly universal within the local and anecdotalâ€”a hope realized in these careful and incandescent poems.
â€œReading this book in manuscript, I began by jotting down the titles of the best poems, but gave that up when it seemed I might choose them all.â€?â€”Richard Wilbur
Dick Davis is an Englishman who has lived for most of his adult life outside his own countryâ€”in Greece, Italy, Iran, and the United States. He is currently a professor of Persian at Ohio State University in Columbus and the author of several books of poetry and translations, including Touchwood and Borrowed Ware.
What others say about this book:
In Top 10 Poetry Selections for 2002!
â€œHis poems are full of fine emotion, intelligence, wit, and multinational culture. He lithely celebrates the legendary rake Casanova; poignantly conjures â€œKiplingâ€™s Kim, Thirty Years Onâ€?; economically reports a fatherâ€™s aching futility in comforting his child (â€œA Bit of Paternityâ€?); deftly valorizes the power of art (â€œJust Soâ€?); and often muses on the shortness of life and the limitations of being human, so cogently that a single quatrain can take oneâ€™s breath away.â€?â€”The Booklist
A Book of the Year 2002!
â€œA British poet married to an Iranian, Dick Davis teaches Persian literature in the United States. The cultural diversity of his life is reflected in the variety of his poems â€”in their skillfully handled formal range, in the scope of their subject-matter and in their commitment to an ideal of civilized life shared by many cultures. Belonging is a profound and beautiful collection, which stimulates, dazzles, surprises and delights.â€?â€”The Economist
â€œI want to go through Belonging quoting handfuls, learning poem after poem by heart. . . . To read Dick Davis is to be reminded of what poetry used to be, and can still become.â€? â€”X. J. Kennedy