In these extraordinary poems, using multiple viewpoints - from Darwin himself, to his beloved wife Emma, and even, at one point, the orangutang at London Zoo - Ruth Padel illuminates the development of Darwin's thought, the drama of the discovery of evolution, and the fluctuating emotions of Darwin the husband, the naturalist and the tender father, in a powerful tribute to her famous ancestor.
Shortlisted for the 2009 Costa Poetry Award.
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Exquisite, precise and moving poems... Once I started reading I could not put it down until I had reached the end, and then I turned back for the pleasure of reading again - Claire Tomalin
A fascinating, very rich book... With sympathy and grace, Padel moves deftly between between science, love and family; between the vast processes of evolution and a personal life - Sean O'Brien
Daring and exciting, brilliant and subtle, stunning and deeply impressive... a lesson to biographers and poets alike - Colm Toibin
Ambitious... shows her extraordinary talent - Observer
Moments of Darwin's life captured with an economy and fluency that prosaic biographers might envy - Spectator
Inspired...her poems are delicate, but with an unusual density... Padel's subtle account is worthy of a fine novelist - The Times
It feels like a deft act of collaboration between the living and the dead, one melding easily with the other... she seems to have caught the quintessence of the man's character, as if in a butterfly net - The Economist
This is not a mere collection, but a complete miniature biography of the great man... Immensely powerful... With her gleaming tropical imagery and a voice resonant with wondrous and tragic overtones,Padel has given us a renewed and intimate Darwin - Guardian
They [the poems] convey what a sensitive, wondering, reverent observer Darwin was of life-forms - The Oldie
I love this collection and will happily re-read it several times.What Ruth Padel does so well is to marry her own sharply observed details with the beauty of Darwin's prose...It is a grand story told in poetry that never overlooks the small things. - Independent on Sunday
a real gem - The Times
By this author
About the Author
Ruth Padel is a prizewinning poet, Fellow of both the Royal Society of Literature and the Zoological Society of London, and first Resident Writer at Somerset House, London. Her collections include Rembrandt Would Have Loved You, Voodoo Shop and The Soho Leopard, all shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, and more recently Darwin: A Life in Poems, shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award.
Highly acclaimed for her nature writing in a book about conservation, Tigers in Red Weather, and her novel, Where the Serpent Lives, she has also published books on contemporary poetry, including 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem and The Poem and the Journey.
In 2014, Ruth Padel is the first Writer in Residence at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and is recording her experiences in her blog at http://www.ruthpadel.com/blog/.