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This review is taken from PN Review 191, Volume 36 Number 3, January - February 2010.

IN A GREEN SHADE DAVID MORPHET, The Silence of Green (Notion Books) £9.99

David Morphet prefaces his collection with a quotation from Goethe’s The Metamorphoses of Plants: ‘The richness of the impulse seems limitless and endless’, and one is reminded that the great German poet was also a distinguished naturalist. I am also put in mind of Michael Hamburger, another naturalist-poet and, as it happens, a translator of Goethe, and one is reminded, above all, of course, of the wonders of nature itself in all its manifestations, in back-garden as much as in the countryside.

I hope I shall be forgiven when writing of the poems by one man if I quote the words of another. I was put in mind of a line in a poem by Daniel Huws called ‘Sonnet Partly of Rats’. This piece appeared only once - in a Cambridge magazine, The St Botolph’s Review: ‘though not a vintage man or bank clerk walker’, exemplifying, almost perversely, the polemically unpoetic or un-romantic aspirations of a group of students, though they might have been less taken with the aura of homme moyen universel adopted by Morphet.

To my mind, this poet’s collection evinces the merits of approaching, in a spirit of judicious tranquility allied to a scrupulous attention to detail, what is often seen as ordinary or humdrum, that which hides, to use his own expression, under ‘the silence of green’. I think that what he accomplishes is of considerable significance, re-directing our attention to what is about us, and removing it somewhat from obsession ...


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