Published by Bloodaxe Books
Like the work of the European poets who have nourished him, David Constantine’s poetry is informed by a profoundly humane vision of the world. Many of the poems in his latest collection spring from particular localities: Scilly, the North of England, Southern France, the Aegean, Wales; others from certain places (loci) in literature and mythology. Inspired by such ‘local habitations' and the people who live there, the poems of Elder express gratitude and loyalty, but also grief at every harm and death.
Published on his 70th birthday, David Constantine's tenth book of poetry sounds many personal elegiac notes as well as – in the story of Erysichthon, for example – anxiety at the abuse of Earth, but there is also much celebration of love, beauty and the hope and aspiration in human beings to live well in the time allowed.
‘The mood is both tender and desperate, with something of the uncanny in its blend of the recognisably human and apparently Other… His religious regard for the world (not the same thing as religious conviction) produces a strange translation of its ordinary terms. Its colours and joys and terrors are heightened as though by fever, yet at the same time brought into clearer focus' – Sean O’Brien, Poetry Review.
‘Drawing on the sensibilities of the European poets – Goethe, Hölderlin, Brecht – whose work he knows so intimately, Constantine's humane and serious volume weighs the life of the individual against the crash and tumble of the wider world and finds in favour of the subtler forces and complexities of the former’ – Sarah Crown, Guardian.
‘Constantine’s peculiar vision is an uneasy blend of the exquisite and the everyday…the beatific, the ordinary, the rebarbative even, are almost indistinguishable… Overwhelmingly the poems are intelligent and well-turned, setting out the tensions between innocence and experience with fine control’ – Elizabeth Lowry, Times Literary Supplement.