Old Men and Comets

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

D. J. Enright is a well known poet, essayist, and anthologist in England. He received the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 1981. Among his more than twenty volumes of verse are COLLECTED POEMS 1987 (1987), SELECTED POEMS 1990 (1990), and UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES (1991).

OLD MEN AND COMETS is a collection of Enright’s latest poems. The poems are exuberant with sagacious wisdom that comes with age and replete with somber reflections that result from a person’s having to face the inevitability of human destiny. The book was written under the sign of Jonathan Swift. To appreciate both Swift and Enright is to understand the paradoxical relationship between youth and age, between memory and reality, and between the meaning of life and the inevitability of death. For, in the book, the narrator’s propensity to live in memories and reminiscences is what provides him with the ability to understand the present and to predict the future.

Enright’s poems are like spring water that runs smoothly down the mountains: its gurgling sound is murmuring, musical, and mesmerizing. The poet’s use of rhythm and rhyme is especially effective. It creates a deliberate tempo which helps to reveal and reinforce his thematic preoccupations. But Enright does not stop at simply following the established poetic styles; in OLD MEN AND COMETS, he also experiments with prose poetry and haiku.

Source for Further Study

Parnassus: Poetry in Review. XVIII, Fall, 1993, p.100.