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This article is taken from PN Review 105, Volume 22 Number 1, September - October 1995.

Roy Fuller: The Double Nature of Nature Neil Powell

The disarmingly plain title Roy Fuller gave to his 1968 collection, New Poems, is in fact full of resonance. His first book, published almost thirty years earlier, had been called simply Poems, so the intended fresh start couldn't have been more clearly or confidently signalled. Technically, the poems are 'new' - and not just recently-written - because they mark two departures from Fuller's previous practice: he uses syllabic rather than accentual metres, and he avoids end-rhymes. 'The springs of verse arc flowing,' he writes, 'after a long/Spell of being bunged up', and his readers seem generally to have welcomed the book as an effective solution to the problems posed by an increasingly congested and constrained style… he doesn't exactly break free,' said Ian Hamilton in the Observer, 'but he does manage to loosen a few screws.' Flowing springs, loosened screws: the chief effect of the syllabics - often denigrated as an impossibly artificial form - is to unclog Fuller's diction so that his cadences become not only more natural but also more memorable than in much of his earlier work; and this is all the more significant since, having successfully achieved an unforced meditative speaking voice in New Poems, he was able to transfer so much of the benefit back to his subsequent metrical writing.

In two of his Oxford lectures ('An Artifice of Versification' and 'Fascinating Rhythm') and two equally interesting later essays for Thames Poetry ('Boos of Different Durations' and 'The Bum-Bum Game') Fuller would ...


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