Poetry. Edited by Elizabeth Conquest. This volume brings together eight decades of work by a writer described in the Dictionary of National Biography as "a man of letters, attaining equal distinction as poet, historian, and political commentator." Robert Conquest's many honours include the PEN Brazil Prize (for the best long poem about the Second World War), a Festival of Britain verse prize, and the Michael Braude Award for Light Verse. His poems cover an astonishing range: Clive James praised his "fastidiously chiselled poems which proved his point that cool reason was not necessarily lyricism's enemy," while Philip Larkin, applauding Conquest's virtuosity with the limerick form, inscribed a copy of High Windows "To Bob, Il Miglior Fabbro (or whatever it was) — at least over five lines." Conquest neatly skewered pretension wherever he found it, but throughout his long life also wrote eloquent poems of love, longing, and loss. As the poet and critic David Mason observed, "These are poems by a man of the world who has seen and studied much and has apparently lived with gusto. It is good to be in his company."
"All Conquest's strengths are evident here — wit, love of life, ferocious technique, and the infinite taking of pains."—Martin Amis
"These vigorous poems have an exquisite colour sense ... They linger wittily over longing ... They are irreverent to the cosmos ... and, with a nod to Larkin, savage to biographers."—Alison Brackenbury, Poetry Review
"Much of Conquest's best-known poetry is funny, even absurdly hilarious, but when it is serious it is continuous with the voice that wrote on history and politics."—Dick Davis, The Hopkins Review
"A strong and individual voice talking about things that matter ... hard energetic movement ... lucidity and power."—Thom Gunn, The Spectator
"Only a first-rate poet could have written stanzas of such deceptive lightness and ease."—Selina Hastings
"In poems about love, the subversive, lyrical proof that desire goes on into old age is alive in every cadence and perception. As ever, he makes many a younger writer look short of energy."—Clive James
"[Conquest's] virtues—precision, wit, craftsmanship—only seem old fashioned to those who believe poetry can do without them. For others, this book will be a continual reminder of times when poetry was turned to in the sure and certain hope of pleasure and instruction."—Alan Jenkins
"The poems ... are smart, funny, tough-minded, generous, and utterly individual."—Zachary Leader
"A fully developed and impressive style ... he writes with clarity, authority and cunning."—New York Times Book Review
"Among the most original short pieces to be published in recent years ... remarkable in their combination of lyrical rhetoric and delicate observation."—The Times Literary Supplement
"Conquest's red-blooded approach to Eros in these poems refreshes rather than repels. For someone critics have accused of blokishness, Conquest writes with great subtlety and often with great tenderness."—David Yezzi, The New Criterion
"These are poems of elegant irreverence from the same humane writer of history, the same Renaissance man, good with a joke, who practiced what one of his poems calls 'strong, natural art.'"—David Mason, The Wall Street Journal
Robert Conquest was born in Malvern, Worcestershire, UK, in 1917, to an American father and his English wife. Educated at Winchester College, the University of Grenoble, and Magdalen College, Oxford, he took his BA and (later) MA degrees in politics, philosophy, and economics, and his D. Litt. in Soviet history. He was the author of twenty-one books on Soviet history, political philosophy, and international affairs, the most recent being The Dragons of Expectation (2004). His classic, The Great Terror, has appeared in most European languages, as well as in Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew and Turkish. Conquest was a Fellow of the British Academy, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of Literature, and the British Interplanetary Society; he was also a member of the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies (contributing to Britannia an article on the Roman Place Names of Scotland). His honours and awards included the Presidential Medal of Freedom; the Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George; the Order of the British Empire; the Commander Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland; the Ukrainian Order of Yaroslav Mudryi; the Estonian Cross of Terra Mariana Order of Merit; the Jefferson Lectureship; the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Michael Braude Award for Light Verse; the Richard Weaver Award for Scholarly Letters; the Fondazione Liberal Career Award; and the Dan David Prize. He lived with his wife Elizabeth in California, where he worked as a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. He died in 2015, aged 98.
Author City: STANFORD, CA USA