Satirist, philosopher, elegist, aphorist, cultural historian – Peter Porter is perhaps too singular a talent to be described as ‘representative’ of the age: an Australian whose easy familiarity with the breadth of European culture puts most Europeans to shame, he has long held the reputation of one of our most intellectually promiscuous and culturally sophisticated writers. Porter uses the poem as a means through which a thought can be pursued; this selection from fifty years’ work allows us the first opportunity to fully survey the quality and breadth of that thought, and the unfailing intensity of its light. In short, his Selected Poems is a one-volume education: Porter’s subtle and profound sense of history permits him to read any event as a point in a dynamic space where the forces of time and culture converge. From these coordinates, he gives perspective, direction and bearing to our contemporary life, and allows us to read the pattern of our ideas, art and loves on the map of an ancient terrain. That he has done all this with such immense good humour and human compassion is one of the literary miracles of our time.