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This article is taken from PN Review 124, Volume 25 Number 2, November - December 1998.

Shelf Lives: 2: Geoffrey Grigson Peter Scupham

Hollowed Stone

Looked for the Hollowed Stone
On a wrong height on the down.
Considered death, considered dying alone,
Discovered no sign of the stone.

Encountered a bull where I expected the stone,
Grazing head-down; raised a bull-eye
As if I were a stone. With heifers.
By no means alone.

In the last light discovered the stone,
In a wired copse under the down.
Nettly, much overgrown. Was stung,
Regarded this work. Continued alone.

Heigh-ho for the vicissitudes of a reputation. Take Alan Bold's 1985 Longman's Dictionary of Poets, all 1001 of them, like an explosion of Dalmations. Embedded there lies Grigson, Geoffrey, the 'industrious anthologist', whose 'main theme is the quality of literary life' and who has 'in his best poems, a genuine feeling for the virtues of rural England'. I think these are meant to be compliments, but, as a friend said, he sometimes suddenly remembers, going about the day's affairs, that Grigson is dead and that a light shone on the nature of things in an idiosyncratic, infuriating, but intensely alive kind of way has gone out. No one is looking at a stone for us quite like that any more. And though this piece is to be about the poems winnowed into those two major collections, the Collected Poems 1924-1962 (Phoenix House, 1963) and Collected Poems 1963-1980 (Alison and Busby, 1982), there is an out-of-print litany of ...


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