`The Rags of Time' adds recent poems written on the deaths of two poets, Nikos Gatsos and Constantine Trypanis, and the sculptor Elisabeth Frink to the six laments included in `The Echoing Green' (1983) and `Shakespeare's Birthday' (1985). These sustained meditations, `more ragged and more raggedly felt than elegies' in Peter Levi's words, record and celebrate with gravity, compassion and wit nearly forty years of friendships. The poems are personal yet formal, `the more to be admired' - as Anne Stevenson wrote of the poems in `The Echoing Green' - `because they are never affected in their elegance.'
Peter Levi, who died in 2000, was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford University in 1984. Until 1977 he was a Jesuit priest. He was a classicist whose writing includes three uncategorizable books - on modern Greece, Afghanistan, and the English landscape - as well as translations, critical and scholarly works, and a thriller. But he was first and foremost a poet.