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This review is taken from PN Review 107, Volume 22 Number 3, January - February 1996.

LIKE HIMSELF ROBERT NYE, Collected Poems (Sinclair-Stevenson) £15

The earliest group of poems in this collection was written between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, and, considering the volume as a whole, it is remarkable how like himself Nye has already managed to become. The succeeding four sections, covering periods up to the current year, show a variety of developments, but they are those of involuntary growth, rather than invented tricks. A notable feature of the poems written in adolescence is that they are not marked by literary influences then contemporary - a feature to be expected at such an age - nor by the mere recordings of impressions recognisable as belonging to childhood - though there is something of this in such poems as 'My Mother's Kitchen' and 'Saying Grace'. But already we have a verbal imagination, sometimes conjuring up themes religious or erotic in a manner hardly to be expected of so young a poet. The most characteristic trait of the poems, as the book develops, is of work which is in no wise just pointing to themes which could be otherwise expressed. The poems stand up to the reader. They say themselves, as early as 'The Heron': 'The moon is rising. O heron, heron/Where is there more to drown in than the sea?'

There are plenty of personal touches, not only in poems such as 'Travelling to My Second Marriage on the Day of the First Moonshot', but they are not outpourings but occasions for observation like the numerous poems which record ...


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