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This review is taken from PN Review 111, Volume 23 Number 1, September - October 1996.

INEXTINGUISHABLE SPIRIT JOHN ADLARD, The Inextinguishable (The Aylesford Press) £5.95

As the millennium draws to a close, reminiscences of poets departed and the times they lived through will no doubt flood the literary reviews. And surely, these elegiac pieces will be, for the most part, lamentations, sorrowful broodings upon the world we have lost to convenience technology and the impossibility of ever getting our old habitats back. Let's hope that among the minor poets thus celebrated the name of John Adlard will not be forgotten. Connoisseurs of the formal stanza and the fluid line will remember Adlard chiefly for The Litchfield Elegies, published by the Aylesford Press in 1991. Now the same press has brought out a longish posthumous continuation of this poet's reflections on his life and times.

As Brocard Sewell explains in a generous introduction, The Inextinguishable has been put together in three parts. The first and last of these 'are in stanza form, and are in part autobiography (at least implicitly) and in part a lament for our "suicidal Europe".' The middle section or Intermezzo, however, is in free verse, surprisingly set in Rio de Janeiro. It has to be said that the formal poem suffers a diminution of force because of this somewhat frenetic interruption. A reader wonders what the poet thought could be gained by rehearsing, for no obvious reason, the sketchy history of a country he seems never to have visited. (The repeated refrain Tangolomango!, for example, seems an inappropriate evocation of a country whose national dance is the samba.) Father ...


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