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This article is taken from PN Review 233, Volume 43 Number 3, January - February 2017.

An Encomium Andrew Wynn Owen
In years to come, when styles and times have altered,
He’ll stand to symbolise so many things.
He’ll represent the warmth of Magdalen College,
Oxford’s most tranquil, leafy, unobtrusive,
And friendly undergraduate abode;
He’ll represent the long-awaited lifeboat
Of regulated wit and sparkling judgement,
The spirit of the eighteenth century;
He’ll stand fast as the thoughtful face of England,
Holding the olive branch of contemplation
Above the fray of mercenary distraction.
In years to come, his work will be a beacon,
Uniting all who care for lucid sense,
And, when he’s gone, we’ll miss him and we’ll wonder,
As we now say of Auden, ‘How precisely
Did he achieve such playfulness and poise?’
For years to come, I pray he will continue
To flourish. He is sheerest ‘floreat’.

At Florio, the Magdalen society
For luring poems out of people’s lips,
He sits inscrutably and watches all.
Occasionally, a crease will cross his brow;
Occasionally, an animating smile;
Occasionally, a quizzical expression
That signifies the imminent deployment
Of kind but devastating counter-thought.
Ringmaster, sleuth, intelligencer, he
Co-ordinates the whole shebang with such
Good sense that even supersonic comets
Change course according to his gravity.
His way is difficult and few can follow,
But those who do discover a strange freedom,
The freedom to control the heart and lungs
With words, protean instruments of ...


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