A Sonnet Sequence

John Elinger

English poetry is well-supplied with sonnets (and sonnet-sequences, like Shakespeare’s) on the subject of love, but marriage (Shelley’s ‘the longest journey’) has not been so exhaustively treated by the poets – though Meredith’s Modern Love is an extended study of an unhappy example. This collection of 144 sonnets by John Elinger is both a sensitive account of his own (unfinished) marriage and a reflective analysis of lifelong partnerships of the past and present. He writes: ‘Weddings are worthless: marriage is what counts…’ (2) and ‘This is the one you’ve all been waiting for – on sex!…’ (34) and ‘All marriages must end in death, divorce – or disappointment…’ (98). 

The poems range across a number of topics related to marriage: parenthood, family, friendship, intimacy, divorce and bereavement, and refer from time to time to marriages in literature, operas, and the Old Testament. The verse is accomplished, the analysis of marriage both instructive and entertaining, the compassion and wisdom remarkable. This is a poet who means what he says, and who writes frankly and honestly about a relationship too often taken for granted or hidden by the social convention of marital privacy.    

John Elinger is the pen-name of Sir Christopher Ball, sometime Warden of Keble College, Oxford, and Chancellor of the University of Derby; he describes these poems as ‘a labour of love, and a celebration and study of marriage – our own and those of others’.The book is illustrated by his wife, Wendy (Lady Ball), his partner of sixty years. The collection is warmly endorsed by Sir Paul Coleridge, Founder and Chairman of Marriage Foundation

£7.99 paper

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October 2018
152 pp
ISBN: 9781909930698