"A strong and individual voice, talking about things that matter."
"In the history of modern poetry, Conquest occupies a permanent place."
Czeslaw Milosz, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature
"In addition to imperishable works of modern history, Conquest has been one of our most distinguished poets."
"This is a warming, engaging book. Its finest moment may be 'The Idea of Virginia', which recounts that state's history and is a generous, unfashionable salute to the nation in which Conquest has lived since 1981, and from which his father came. Now in his ninety-third year, one of the four or five most influential anthologists of the twentieth century and one of the first unmaskers of Stalinism shows that his grip on the present and his love of poetry are unabated."
"Not only a comic poet of genius but also a love poet of considerable force... [Conquest's] indelible limericks are the best of the past hundred years... [A] poet producing some of his finest poems... [He] makes Hardy look like a whippersnapper."
David Yezzi, Yale Review
"The elegance and liveliness of Robert Conquest's poetry skims depths suggested by his lovely quotation from De Musset, 'si triste et profonde'. The poems flow in cadences which draw an intricate net of echoes and names into their wake... Conquest has an equally fine ear for speech. 'Perfect's a word you mustn't use,' / She said.' The poems in Penultimata depend on perfect poise... These vigorous poems have an exquisite colour sense: St Petersburg's light is 'ermine, almond'. They linger wittily over longing: 'There'll be no naiads in that rill / So let's forget about them. (Still ...)' ... Conquest was born in 1917 and the lightness and sharpness of this writing remain exemplary to all of us who are under ninety. With its long drawn-out falls and quickfire wit, it is a restorative music."
Alison Brackenbury, Poetry Review
"Perhaps wistfully and certainly hopefully entitled, this is the sixth collection by a poet now in his ninety-third year. Conquest is much better known as a historian of the Soviet Union, intent on exposing its internal crimes; his Great Terror... on Stalin's purges, is a classic. As classic, or classical, is his poetry. Its themes – love, history, manners – are those of the great Greeks and Romans; so, too, is its wit, warmth, and the ultimate humility of recognizing that anyone's life fades and dies, while human nature endures. Love, especially eros, is the concern of the volume's first part; history and, again, love, with some politics and physiology, of the second part. Although poems in the others are often funny, always light-footed, the third part consists of deliberately humorous verse that frequently touches upon ... love. Without losing any wit, the poems of the last part are generally more reflective than those of the others. And do they, like the others, scan, rhyme, require one's sharp attention – and reward it? Most graciously."
Ray Olson, Booklist