Slant is thrilled to announce its fifth book! Here at Last is Love: Selected Poems by Dunstan Thompson is the definitive, authorized selection of Thompson’s best work, revealing to a wider public the literary vision of a “lost master.”
Dunstan Thompson (1918–1975) was an American poet of great promise who burst onto the Anglo-American literary scene during World War II. In the words of one contemporary, Thompson was one of the rising “stars of modern poetry,” a writer who might one day join the pantheon of poets like Hart Crane, W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, and Dylan Thomas.
And yet Thompson more or less disappeared from public view by the early 1950s. After publishing two volumes of poetry, a travel book, and a novel, Thompson had only a few scattered magazine publications until his death. A posthumous volume was privately printed in England but the circulation was small.
In the introduction of Here at Last is Love, editor Gregory Wolfe offers the first extended narrative in print relating Thompson’s complex personal story. The afterword by distinguished poet and critic Dana Gioia provides a thorough—and just—assessment of his poetic achievement.
Thompson’s early poetry was not only technically innovative, but saturated with the language and the drama of gay experience during World War II. Yet just a few years after the war, Thompson returned to the Catholic faith of his childhood and changed his way of life, only to find that his new poetic voice was out of sync with the times.
In spite of the difficulties he faced in his later years, Thompson did not give up writing poetry, continuing to produce quality work. After his reconversion, the poetry shifted in tone and form from a lush romanticism to an urbane classicism. The later work covers a wide range of subjects, from studies of historical figures to devotional lyrics.
The publication of this volume will not only stir up the debate about Thompson’s sexual and religious passions, but also help complete the history of twentieth-century Anglo-American poetry, finally making his work available to scholars and lovers of poetry everywhere.
Stay tuned via our Facebook page and our newsletter, SlantWise, for upcoming news on Here at Last is Love, including free excerpts, interviews with afterword author Dana Gioia, and where and when to pre-order.
About the Author
Dunstan Thompson (1918–1975) was a Harvard-educated poet and author who was considered a rising star in Anglo-American literary scene during World War II after the publication of two critically acclaimed collections. Shortly after that he disappeared from public life, to the surprise of many admirers. Now, forty years after his death, the publication of his selected poems reveals that a deep inner conflict about his Catholic and gay identities led to a personal crisis after the war. The next phase of Thompson’s career took place out of public view, in part because the changes in his style and subject matter were out of step with the fashions of the time. This volume will now make it possible for historians and poetry lovers to see Thompson’s place in the annals of twentieth-century literature.