The poems in this volume were selected by Glyn Maxwell from TALE OF THE MAYOR'S SON (published in 1990, when he was twenty-eight), OUT OF THE RAIN (shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize), and REST FOR THE WICKED. Maxwell “is a formalist,” wrote Robert McIlwaine about his first book, “but . . . he is an outspoken anti-elitist social poet. His strenuous well-wrought poems . . . come from an English tradition of technical virtuosity with plain speech.” The Boys at Twilight shows, sometimes comically, men at war, boys at play, boys grown up, men overreaching and reverting. Other concerns are the dangers of authority and mob psychology, the absurdities of stardom and consumerism, the heroism of the decent, and the wisdom of doubt. His subjects range from biblical stories to the “Tale of the Chocolate Egg,” which is a long, “pitch-perfect description of a bored young man’s growing obsession with a new kind of candy” (Adam Kirsch, New Republic). Always in his work, “Maxwell knows that to see into is not necessarily to see through . . . His virtuosity has a ballast of sobriety” (Poetry Book Society).
About the Author
Glyn Maxwell is the author of several books of poetry, including The Sugar Mile. He is also a dramatist whose plays have been staged in New York, Edinburgh, and London. Among other honors, he has won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the E. M. Forster Prize. He was the poetry editor of the New Republic from 2001 to 2007.
The High Achievers
Educated in the Humanities, they headed for the City, their beliefs implicit in the eyes and arteries of each, and their sincerity displayed in notes, in smiles, in sheaves of decimal etcetera. Made, they counted themselves free. Those were the hours of self-belief, and the slow accolade of pieces clattering into a well.
And then the shrug of powers, and the millions glutted where they fell toadstooling into culture. Who knows when they made their killings during that hot spell: flies or policemen? An infinity of animals began to thrive especially, as when the dull sea, sick with its fish, was turning them to men.
Copyright © 1990, 1992, 1995, 2000 by Glyn Maxwell
“Some of the brightest poetic goods seen for many years.”