PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
PN Review Prize winners announced
Carcanet Press and PN Review are delighted to announce the winners of the first ever PN Review Prize. read more
Most Read... Drew MilneTom Raworth’s Writing
‘present past improved’: Tom Raworth’s Writing

(PN Review 236)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Alejandro Fernandez-OsorioPomace (trans. James Womack)
(PN Review 236)
Kei MillerIn the Shadow of Derek Walcott
1930–2017

(PN Review 235)
Kate BinghamPuddle
(PN Review 236)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Gratis Ad 1
Gratis Ad 2
Next Issue CELEBRATING JOHN ASHBERY Contributors include Mark Ford, Marina Warner, Jeremy Over, Theophilus Kwek, Sam Riviere, Luke Kennard, Philip Terry,Agnes Lehoczky, Emily Critchley, Oli Hazard and others Miles Champion The Gold Standard Rebecca Watts The Cult of the Noble Amateur Marina Tsvetaeva ‘My desire has the features of a woman’: Two Letters translated by Christopher Whyte Iain Bamforth Black and White

This poem is taken from PN Review 4, Volume 4 Number 4, July - September 1978.

Ars Poetica I.A. Richards

I.
... In thy book were all my members written, which day by day were fashioned: when as yet there were none of them.
Psalm 139: 15-16

Conceive your embryo at its earliest age,
 The germ just entered the awaiting egg.
  What then were you? And how has what ensued
   Guided you all your life in all you've done?
Before your birth, seriatim, page by page,
 That had to hold for this to be the peg
  Then placed; all hung on prior aptitude
   Through the long climb to what was then begun.

Once born, your new-won comforts gone, you had
 To learn; harder, more hazardous, and yet the same:
  Each step prepares or it precludes the next.
The grimmest lesson, this, on good and bad,
 The founding rule of the whole fearsome game,
  'Unto him that hath shall be given . . .'* So reads the text.


II.
So poems grow. The lonely, waiting phrase
...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image