Eros Proposes a Toast

Tony Conran
Publication Date: 
Tuesday, December 8, 1998
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This 'Collected Public Poems and Gifts' illustrates the way in which the Welsh language tradition of composition for specific occasions - weddings, funerals, births, historical public events - has influenced Tony Conran for forty years. An acclaimed translator from Welsh, Conran has adopted styles, forms and genres to create a new kind of writing in his English-language poetry. Thus Eros Proposes a Toast has formal elegies to fellow poets such as Dylan Thomas which pay public tribute in the manner of medieval bards, and poems such as ’Gooseberries’ in which a friend is remembered through the annual gathering of fruit.

It also includes a wide variety of types of poems, from ’gifts’ to friends getting married, to llatai - messenger poems - in which an animal or object communicates the poet’s feelings, to the peerless ’Elegy for the Welsh Dead’, Conran’s moving adaptation of the medieval Gododdin poem to the Falklands War. In a book which reminds us of the many roles poetry performs, Conran brings to his formal mastery an increasingly rare intelligence and humanity. Through the personal he views the universal, and with the historical he explores the values underpinning society.

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