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This report is taken from PN Review 175, Volume 33 Number 5, May - June 2007.

Making Books Will Eaves

Neither of my parents read a great deal and certainly not poetry, but from some other far-sighted relative they had inherited a copy of Peacock Pie by Walter de la Mare, so I read that. I cannot say that I remember many of the poems in it, or even any of the better lines. De la Mare is out of fashion today, and besides even his Georgian contemporaries, never mind the later Modernists, the verse - now that I look at it again - is threaded with fustian. Its Wordsworthian yearning sounds hollow within earshot of the First World War, titles and rhymes express a somehow anxious formalism, and the ear is tuned only to the past. Anyway, I loved it: de la Mare treats the natural world as a magical realm, a stage for transformation, where shadows solidify (they are always being cast) and words become things.

It is a poetry of unfeigned Romanticism. Moonlit nights and slippery-cold pre-dawns are especially good times to observe these rituals of creation - and to join in. For some reason I felt that a book of poems was something I could make too; and so, for a while, I got up at six in the morning and made books before school, cutting leaf-shaped pages out of jotters and stapling them together. The only plain paper in the house was a pad of Basildon Bond Blue and I couldn't use that, which meant settling ...


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