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This review is taken from PN Review 17, Volume 7 Number 3, January - February 1981.

Anna Adams A Reply to Intercepted Mail, (Harry Chambers/Peterloo Poets) £1.35

I do not like Auden's 'Letter to Lord Byron', without being quite sure why. Auden is too clever to be caught out; if you accuse him of snobbery, you find him despising snobs; of being partial and slanted - he says he's going to be, early on; of writing in a flat, knowing tone - he's doing it on purpose as a joke; and so on. I've no doubt I'm missing something, but more interesting than what I'm missing is what Anna Adams has found in the same poem: a spur to write her own letter to Auden, in the same stanza, and on much the same subject - being a poet in the time she is living in. (Perhaps this is the start of a chaim similar to the chain of tombeaux written by one composer in memory of another: Ravel wrote one for Couperin, Arthur Benjamin for Ravel, and Derek Bourgeois for Arthur Benjamin. She seized on his form with gusto, because:


                      Dissatisfied
with most that I have written to this day,
I have been looking for a form inside
which I can pack all that I have to say
unfiltered. I have thrown too much away
as unpoetic - fit for conversation
and letters, not poetic celebration.


Her idea of what was 'poetic' had been 'Epiphanies/before grass-blades or sunshafts. . .all/clear demonstration of mysterious law/incarnate in material'; on trying to turn 'a ...
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