Francis Warner's Poetry: A Critical Assessment
Francis Warner’s Poetry: A Critical Assessment

Francis Warner’s Poetry: A Critical Assessment


The poetry of Francis Warner is unlike that of any of his contemporaries in its blend of passion and scholarship. It is the work of a mind steeped in the great traditions of poetry – work that is learned and allusive, but simultaneously intense in its lyricism.

Glyn Pursglove, author of an earlier study of Warner's plays Francis Warner and Tradition, provides a detailed account of this fascinating body of work, demonstrating both its indebtedness to tradition and its profound originality. In a manner both scholarly and sensitive he clarifies the complex craftsmanship of Warner's major poems and demonstrates the extraordinary formal inventiveness which characterises so much of his work.

Central to Francis Warner's achievement as a lyrical poet are several remarkable sequences of love poems. Theses are here afforded a poem-by-poem examination so that readers will find their pleasure in them enhanced by these meticulous and lively studies.

For all his attention to the detail of the poems, Glyn Pursglove does not neglect the larger themes that give continuity to Warner’s work. The reaffirmation of biblical and classical concepts of love – not just as a scholarly exercise but felt in the ' blood – is at the heart of all of his work as a poet and as a dramatist. It was perhaps inevitable that a poet so steeped in the lyrical forms of the Renaissance (the canzone, the madrigal, and above all the sonnet) should eventually turn his attention to Verse Drama. This study closes fittingly with two lengthy chapters devoted to Warner's verse plays Moving Reflections and Living Creation, theatrical and poetic explorations of love and creativity set in the age of the Gospels and Renaissance Florence.

When Francis Warner's Collected Poems appeared in 1985, The Scotsman described him as 'one of the most adroit and adventurous of living English poets' and observed that 'it is about time that critical appreciation caught up with him'. Glyn Pursglove's assessment answers that demand.

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