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This article is taken from PN Review 166, Volume 32 Number 2, November - December 2005.

The Poetry of Lynette Roberts Patrick McGuinness

I

The Argentine-born Welsh writer Lynette Roberts published two books of poems as dramatic, varied, dense, elliptical and inset with verbal novelty as any experimental poetry in the twentieth century. T.S. Eliot, her friend and editor at Faber, praised her work, complimenting it by that most eliotic of criteria: that it communicated before it made sense. Robert Graves, who drew on her expertise as he researched for The White Goddess, wrote: 'Lynette Roberts is one of the few true poets now writing. Her best is the best.' Her first collection, Poems, appeared in 1944, when she was thirty-five. The second, Gods with Stainless Ears, subtitled 'A Heroic Poem', came out in 1951.1

The opening of Poems, 'Poem from Llanybri' (the village in South West Wales she moved to when she married Keidrych Rhys, editor of Wales), is a welcome-poem to soldier and fellow-poet Alun Lewis:

If you come my way that is ...
Between now and then, I will offer you
A fist full of rock cress fresh from the bank
The valley tips of garlic red with dew
Cooler than shallots, a breath you can swank

In the village when you come. At noon-day
I will offer you a choice bowl of cawl
Served with a 'lover's' spoon and a chopped spray
...


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