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This review is taken from PN Review 106, Volume 22 Number 2, November - December 1995.

FITTING IN ROBERT GRAVES, Collected Writings on Poetry, edited by Paul O'Prey (Carcanet) £35

In one of his 1954-5 Clark lectures given at Trinity College Cambridge - 'These Be Your Gods, O Israel' - Robert Graves took issue with an anonymous leader-writer of the TLS for describing the current state of poetry as an 'Age of Consolidation'. 'Age of Acquiescence' or 'Age of Acceptance' Graves preferred to call it, claiming that

most of my younger contemporaries have been acquiescing in an organised attempt, by critics, publicists, and educationalists, to curtail their liberty of judgement, and make them bow the knee before a row of idols whose rites are quite incompatible with devotion to the Muse herself.

The idols to whom Graves was referring were Yeats, Pound, Eliot, Auden and Dylan Thomas: their worshippers and high priests were the academics and critics who organised their cults and wrote such frighteningly plausible-sounding doctorates as Auden and the Freudian Theory of Transference or T.S. Eliot as anticipated by Duns Scotus. In a review of Graves's 1960 Collected Poems Donald Davie asked 'where Graves fits in with Eliot and Pound and Yeats, Auden and Thomas'. With the exception of Dylan Thomas the same names remain ranged 'against' Graves, or at any rate must be reckoned with in any attempt to see where he 'fits in'.

This fascinating and comprehensive edition of Graves's writings on poetry (that is, writings in which poetry is the main rather than an incidental subject) collects material from over fifty years of prolific criticism, ranging from intimate ...

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