Open World: Collected Poems 1960-2000

Open World: Collected Poems 1960-2000

Open World: Collected Poems 1960-2000

Open World: Collected Poems 1960-2000


His vision is a remarkably consistent one and the same elements recur again and again- rocks, sea, mist, gulls and the natural world. The sheer range of influences reflect the extraordinary range and depth of his reading- Rimbaud, Nietzche, and Whitman amongst many others- and it is a measure of the strength of his work that such a personal voice emerges. The book is arranged chronologically and many of the poems are appearing in English for the first time. Notated and introduced by the author, this collection for the first time presents his poetry as a coherent and cross-referenced whole.


Every world-epoch is marked on its heights by a cosmological (cosmopoetic) idea which creates the field of high endeavour in that age. In ancient Greece, at the height of Athenian culture, it’s the idea of Polis, or, shall we say, Platonic politics (based on philosophy and science). In the Middle Ages of Europe, it’s the Marian Idea -I mean the image of Mary and Child (backed by theology and philosophy). In the Modern Age (dominated by techno-science), it is, with disastrous consequences, the idea of the Mastery of Man over Nature.

It has been the aim of high energy poetics over the last hundred years and more - beyond the Babel of literature and the provinces of restricted poetry - to attain to such an idea (let’s say idea-complex, cluster of ideational energy) and create a new field.

The task has been no easy one.

Away at the beginning of the nineteenth century, while he was still close to Hölderlin, Hegel was to say that in the century to come poetry would find itself faced with such an enormous mass of the prosaic (what Mallarmé was to call ‘universal reportage’) that it would find it difficult to make headway. Later he was to abandon that way altogether (Hölderlin was by this time mad in a tower at Tubingen), declaring that the Idea was latent in History, that History was not only meaningful (not ‘a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’, as a poet had called it), but gravid with World Spirit’ (Weltgeist). It was this Idea, translated in more popular terms into a Myth of Progress, that carried the nineteenth century along, and a good part of the twentieth. It no longer carries weight at all. Towards the end of the twentieth century, it was entirely blasted, leaving in its wake an anxiety and a vacuum that societies and nations make haste to try and fill up with various brands of ‘circus’ and ‘culture’ in the merely sociological sense (anything and everything that is done).

The question remains entire and open.

Throughout history, there have always been individuals that are more lucid, radical and perspectivist than others. Already . . .

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