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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
40 Sonnets

40 Sonnets

Don Paterson

Farrar, Straus and Giroux


This collection, which won the 2015 Costa Poetry Award, is an exhibition of the Dundee-born poet’s stunningly accomplished adoption of the sonnet’s ancient structure

This collection from Don Paterson, his first since the Forward Prize–winning Rain in 2009, is a series of forty luminous sonnets. Some take a traditional form, while others experiment with the reader’s conception of the sonnet, but they all share the lyrical intelligence and musical gift that has made Paterson one of our most celebrated poets.

Addressed to friends and enemies, the living and the dead, children, musicians, poets, and dogs, these poems are as ambitious in their scope and tonal range as in the breadth of their concerns. Here, voices call home from the blackout and the airlock, the storm cave and the séance, the coal shed, the war, the highway, the forest, and the sea. These are voices frustrated by distance and darkness, which ring with the “sound that fades up from the hiss, / like a glass some random downdraught had set ringing, / now full of its only note, its lonely call.”

In 40 Sonnets, Paterson returns to some of his central themes—contradiction and strangeness, tension and transformation, the dream world, and the divided self—in some of the most powerful and formally assured poems of his career.


I must quit sleeping in the afternoon.

I do it for my heart, but all too soon

my heart has called it off. It does not love me.

If it downed tools, there’d soon be nothing of me.

Its hammer-beat says...

Praise for 40 Sonnets

"Paterson’s poetry has always been distinguished by its marriage of craft and lyricism, and the sonnet is, simply, the perfect vehicle to showcase this. Having scratched the itch, it will be fascinating to see where he turns his attention next." - The Guardian -

Reviews from Goodreads

Don Paterson

Don Paterson has written several collections of poems, including Nil Nil, God’s Gift to Women, Rain, The Eyes, and Landing Light, which won both the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Whitbread Prize for Poetry. He lives in Edinburgh.

image of Don Patersono
Murdo Macleod

Don Paterson

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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