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Samuel Menashe

Image by Caroline Forbes

Samuel Menashe

b. 1925 d. 2011

O Many Named Beloved / Listen to my praise - 'O Many Named Beloved', Samuel Menashe

The Living End

Samuel Menashe


The Shrine Whose Shape I Am

Samuel Menashe


Promised Land

Samuel Menashe


Adam Means Earth

Samuel Menashe


O Many Named Beloved

Samuel Menashe


Curriculum Vitae

Samuel Menashe


Self Employed

Samuel Menashe


Memento Mori

Samuel Menashe

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About Samuel Menashe

Samuel Menashe (1925 - 2011) enlisted in 1943, and was sent to the Infantry School in Fort Benning, Georgia, then to England (Cheshire) for further training. His division fought in France, Belgium (The Battle of the Bulge) and Germany. In 1950 he was awarded a Doctorat d'Université by the Sorbonne. His first book was published, thanks to Kathleen Raine, in London in 1961. He was the inaugural winner of Poetry magazine's Neglected Masters award, a prize that both pays tribute to his excellence and makes reparation for the years in which his achievements were overlooked. However, he had had powerful admirers during that time, including Donald Davie, Austin Clarke, P N Furbank and Billy Collins. His New and Selected Poems, introduced by Christopher Ricks, was published in 2005 by the Library of America.

Menashe's poems are intensely condensed, very few being longer than a dozen short lines, and delight in their patterning of sounds. These are not fixed forms, but poems that follow the method Menashe suggests when he introduces 'Cargo' by saying "I never wrote a sonnet, but it seems to me to have the formality of a sonnet", a method well described by Stephen Spender when he claimed that Menashe "compresses thought into language intense and clear as diamonds."

There is an attention within these poems that is committed to the themes of religious poetry, alluding often to the Old Testament. This can range from 'The Shrine Whose Shape I Am', to 'Adam Means Earth', which takes the fact of its title to examine the nature of human existence. In other poems, subjects range from death, dreams and the sea to more domestic matters, such as the woman noticed in a window across the street who becomes the focus of 'Tenement Spring' - everything in Menashe's poetry becomes valued and significant.

'Tenement Spring' is followed in this recording by a brief story about the writing of the poem; many others carry introductions and postscripts from Menashe, who further humanises the whole performance with a voice that is resonant yet relaxed. Reciting from memory, he makes clear why Alan Brownjohn, in the Sunday Times, found that these poems "have their own distinct, offbeat twang, and stay in the memory."

His recording was made in August 2002 at the poet's home in New York City, and was produced by Jeffrey Wertz.

Samuel Menashe's Favourite Poetry Saying:

"Rhetoric comes from the quarrel one has with the world. Poetry comes from the quarrel one has with oneself." - WB Yeats

Additional material and useful links

Bloodaxe book 2009

Bloodaxe Books have published a new edition of Samuel Menashe's work complete with a DVD called LIFE IS IMMENSE: VISITING SAMUEL MENASHE. The film, by Pamela Robertson-Pearce, was shot in the...

Samuel Menashe

A portrait of poet Samuel Menashe, produced by Emily Botein.

Selected bibliography

Samuel Menashe: New and Selected Poems, Library of...


The Niche Narrows: New and Selected Poems, Talisman...

Penguin Modern Poets 7, Penguin 1996


Collected Poems, University of Maine 1986


To Open, Viking Press 1974 - out of print

Fringe of Fire, Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1973 - out of print

No Jerusalem But This, October House, 1971 - out of...

The Many Named Beloved, Victor Gollancz Ltd 1961 - out...


2004 Neglected Masters Award

Prize website


Samuel Menashe

Samuel Menashe Reading from his Poems

1Roads Run Forever...

2Warrior Wisdom

3All my friends are homeless...


5The Dead of Winter



8April (Fool)

9Sudden Shadow

10She who saw the moon last night...

11The Bare Tree

12The Host


14Family Plot

15Awakening from Dreams

16Oh lady lonely as a stone...

17The friends of my father

18Full Fathom Five


20Memento Mori

21Forever and a Day

22At a Standstill

23The Oracle

24On the Level

25Self Employed

26Curriculum Vitae

27In my Digs

28Tenement Spring

29A pot poured out...

30Off the Wall

31Pity Us

32At Millay's Grave

33Take any man...


35O Many Named Beloved

36Promised Land

37Adam Means Earth

38Reeds Rise from Water


40Stone would be water...

41If I were as lean as I feel...

42The Shrine Whose Shape I Am

43As the tall, turbaned...

44Old as the Hills


46Just Now

47Gray Boulder

48Rural Sunrise




52Western Wind




56Home Movie


58What to Expect

59The Visitation


61The Living End


63The Niche






69The Sandpiper

70On My Birthday

71A Bronze Head

72Sunset, Central Park

73Night Music (Pizzicato)

74Family Silver



77Salt and Pepper

78Walking Stick


80The room of my friend...


82All my life when I woke up at night...

83Someone Walked Over My Grave


85Le Lac Secret


87Red Glints in Black Hair



Books by Samuel Menashe