The late Hugh McDiarmid wrote that 'Peter Russell is, in my opinion, a writer who has so far received nothing like due recognition...no one in Great Britain today has rendered anything like such disinterested, many-sided and sustained service to Poetry'. This selection from Peter Russell's work of many years illustrates the range of a poet who, in Kathleen Raine's words, has 'kept faith (as did his master Ezra Pound) with what is perhaps the greatest imaginative and philosophical conception of the European tradition, 'the Beautiful". Peter Jay's selection concentrates on his lyric poems but also includes examples of his longer, contemplative poems. Many of the poems are previously uncollected; these include notable additions to the much-admired oeuvre of Quintilius, of which "The Times", reviewing "The Elegies of Quintilius", wrote: '(They are) at once a translation and a criticism and must in the end be reckoned as neither, but as something rarer; a poem, a supreme fiction. They have the quality of authority that comes when a man achieves his own tone and pitch after a lifetime learning the craft of verse'.
Peter Russell, born in Bristol in 1921, was editor of the influential magazine 'Nine' (1945-56). He left England in the early 1960s, and lived and taught in Germany, the USA, Canada, Iran and Italy, which was his main home since 1964.
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