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This review is taken from PN Review 158, Volume 30 Number 6, July - August 2004.

A SMILING SENSE OF THE FABULOUS PETER REDGROVE, Sheen (Stride) £10.00 Full of Star's Dreaming: Peter Redgrove, 1932-2003, edited by Rupert Loydell (Stride) £5.95

From the poetry dedicated to him in the tributes of Full of Star's Dreaming, Peter Redgrove was cherished for his sense of the magical in the English land and seascape. In recent decades this has meant the southwest peninsula in particular, but his poetry is not generally founded on a particular framed outlook; the titles of some of his poems in his last book, Sheen, invoke more fundamental elements without specific locale - `Clouds and Rain', `The Spin of Trees', `Caverns and Towers'. He had a magical sense of the body, too, especially the body figured sexually, as a pleasurably and sometimes frightening oozing landscape in itself. The human frame was to be seen as something not exactly separate from the real land in any case: as a small territory in tune with the larger territory on which it is dependent, if it is allowed and encouraged to be so.

Humans, who are composed mostly of water but are seldom seen as such, can in themselves be seen as a living alchemical conundrum, caught perceptually midway between liquid and solid - molten fixities - as they are between the moments of life starting and the moment of death. The material nature of flesh-and-bones is acknowledged by Redgrove but then, with the sense of `blessing' that a number of contributors to the anthology rightly imply is there in his work, an invocation of the miraculous nature of it all seems to hover around his poems, no less so ...


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