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This article is taken from PN Review 203, Volume 38 Number 3, January - February 2012.

Andrew Crozier, The English Intelligencer and The Wivenhoe Park Review Ian Brinton
Andrew Crozier's interest in challenging poetic forms had been made manifestly clear in his contribution to Granta in October 1963 when he published a review of New Lines 2, edited by Robert Conquest. Having started from the premise that '[the] New Lines poets are our orthodoxy, not our rebels (who are a few, and mostly have to print themselves)', Crozier proceeded to quote Conquest on the central current of English poetry:

No methods of analysis at present in use are delicate enough to deal with the fine detail of English verse. I calculate that, allowing one each of five possible variations, there are some seven thousand differentiations of the iambic pentameter. And that is on the immensely crude assumption that syllables are either stressed or unstressed, whereas in reality this is an infinite variable.

Crozier's conclusion was both brief and to the point ('How subtle!') before he went on to add:

Cribbing from Yvor Winters, Robert Conquest elevates the 'English' poet's function to that of some cross between the watchmaker and the mosaicist. What Conquest doesn't see is that by taking any periodic structure as your rule you can put in a number of variants. But any poet with the slightest interest in what he has to say is not going to work that small. Maybe I should have written: 'with anything interesting to say...'

Those last words about interesting things to say are central to the whole enterprise ...


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