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Seasons In The Sun

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Star, London, 1974
price: 95p; 240 pages

dedication: This is a book for E.

The blurb on the back:

In little more than six years Rod McKuen has sold nine million books of poetry in hardcover, more than any other poet in history. Seasons in the Sun includes brand-new, never-before-published McKuen poetry, plus some of his best poems from Listen to the Warm, Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows, Lonesome Cities, Fields of Wonder, A Man Alone, And Autumn Came and In Someone's Shadow.
Frederick Shroyer, of the
Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, says: 'That McKuen has become the best-selling poet in America is a splendid thing, because simply he is one of the best lyrical poets in America - and it is a joy when hundreds of thousands, not just a few, recognize a major poet when they read or hear one.'

opening lines:
Every year I've tried to make the summer stretch a little longer.

1974 was a glorious year for pop music. Every #1 single that year was a solid-gold classic. Well, every one with the exception of Ray Steven's 'The Streak'. And possibly John Denver's 'Annie's Song'. Although, to be fair, I have a certain weakness for the former Mr Deutschendorf...

But I'm getting sidetracked. What I wanted to say is that Terry Jacks' 'Seasons In The Sun' was a brilliant record, one of the very best songs about a man dying of cancer that has ever been taken to #1 in Britain by a Canadian singer and subsequently revived by a pisspoor Irish boy band.

The song was originally a Jacques Brel number titled 'Le Moribunde', with English lyrics added by Rod McKuen, based on a short story he'd written about, well, a dying man, as it happens. Mr McKuen was already a big name in Northern America by this stage, but didn't mean much in Britain, so the storming success of the Terry Jacks single seemed to provide the ideal opportunity to expand the empire, hence this rapid-response volume, beautifully printed on top quality paper and packed full of illustrations. (Most of the latter, I regret to report, are of the unphotogenic, bearded poet himself).

I don't know whether anyone reads this stuff anymore, but as popular poetry, it's really not bad. Obsessed with sex, of course, but what else would you expect:

I want to be
alone with you,
I want my thighs
to speak your name
so softly
only you can hear. (p.97)

I mean, it's not exactly Ezra Pound, but then it's definitely not Leonard Nimoy either.