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This review is taken from PN Review 165, Volume 32 Number 1, September - October 2005.

A BACKWARD GLANCE MARK JARMAN, To the Green Man (Sarabande Books) $13.95

'In Church with Hart Crane' is one of the poems in Mark Jarman's new collection which articulates its theme most clearly. In a masterly 'double-take' through time, Jarman presents himself both as the young aspiring poet sitting in his father's church, reading 'This white Doubleday Anchor book / With the fuschia pink M of the Brooklyn Bridge on the cover', which he describes as 'my prayerbook in a church without prayerbooks', and remembering

How many awful times
I've sat in church since then, believing
That I was neither good nor good enough
To write the poems I thought I understood.

and also as the middle-aged teacher of today, conscious that although his minister-father was quite aware his son was reading poetry not prayers, he

... didn't say a word. I would remember.
I have remembered, and in my classroom ignore
The sleeping boys and girls and waking dreamers
Turning toward the window like sunflowers,
While some delectable phantom, like Hart or Jesus,
Drifts past, beckoning.

The same two characters - the would-be poet and the realised, and possibly wiser, poet of the present - are the protagonists of 'Shyness of the Muse in an Almond Orchard'. The young Jarman, driving a tractor from a stand of trees, observes and absorbs his surroundings:

The stand is deep enough to have a heart
With ...


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