The Poems of Martin Seymour-Smith
Publication: June 2014
Edited by David Cameron
Martin Seymour-Smith (1928-1998) was the polymathic author of the colossal Guide to Modern World Literature (1973, 1985), many other reference books, and definitive biographies of Thomas Hardy and of his friend Robert Graves. His commitment to making known the writing of others has obscured the fact of his own dedication to poetry, and the existence of some 150 of his poems (until now only in separate volumes) in which his own emotional and intellectual conflicts are fought through in the context of his century. Writer, soldier, bantam-weight boxer, encyclopaedist, father, friend, tormented and ecstatic lover – Seymour-Smith’s voice as a poet is one of the most distinctive of his time. His earliest poem, written when he was a boy, ends prophetically:
And all around him, while he spoke, there beat
The endless drummers of subtracting night.
In his life he insisted on maintaining his integrity in an age of declining standards. Few poems of this age are simultaneously as intelligent and passionate as these.