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This article is taken from Poetry Nation 2 Number 2, 1974.

The Poetry Of Molly Holden Roger Alma

The ultimate aim of the poet should be to touch our hearts by showing his own, and not to exhibit his learning, or his fine taste, or his skill in mimicking the notes of his predecessors.


THIS QUOTATION FROM Leslie Stephen, which Thomas Hardy entered in his notebook, is one which illuminates his intentions as a poet. It might also be applied with justice to the poetry of Molly Holden. The connection is not an arbitrary one, for the first volume of Molly Holden's poetry, To Make Me Grieve, takes its title from Hardy s poem, 'I Look into My Glass', a poem which perhaps more than any other by Hardy exemplifies Stephen's dictum.

I look into my glass,
And view my wasting skin,
And say, 'Would God it came to pass
My heart had shrunk as thin!'

For then, I, undistrest
By hearts grown cold to me,
Could lonely wait my endless rest
With equanimity.

But Time, to make me grieve,
Part steals, lets part abide;
And shakes this fragile frame at eve
With throbbings of noontide.


We are profoundly moved by this grave and sombre poem because in it we see a sensitive, vulnerable man facing up to his disturbing vision of life without flinching. The language is austere, befitting the poet's stoicism, each word fitting precisely and unpretentiously in place. This is poetry of great ...
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