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This review is taken from PN Review 96, Volume 20 Number 4, March - April 1994.

ARIANRHOD'S FORTRESS SAUNDERS LEWIS, Selected Poems, translated with an Introduction and Notes by Joseph P.Clancy (University of Wales Press) £8.95
IDRIS DAVIES, The Angry Summer: A Poem of 1926, with an Introduction and Notes by Tony Conran (University of Wales Press) £15.95 (hb), £7.95 pb

It should be a Welsh-speaking Welshman writing this review, and not myself, but Saunders Lewis, who was born in 1893 and died as recently as 1985, is very clearly an important writer, even in the Saxon tongue. Though his work is much concerned, naturally and rightly, with Wales, it is never narrowly national. In his plays in particular he addresses subjects that are profound. complex and universal and does justice to them. It is the plays (a selection from which is available in four volumes, translated again by Joseph Clancy, from Christopher Davies, Llandybie, Dyfed) that form the largest and most important part of his literary corpus, but, as Bruce Griffiths writes in a thoughtful little book on the writer published by the University of Wales Press, the poetry's 'quality and significance is out of proportion to its quantity'.

In his lifetime, Saunders Lewis published only about thirty six poems, if the great versedrama Siwan, which the poet counted among his poems, is excluded (it has been translated by Clancy as 'The King of England's Daughter' and is included in the first of the four volumes mentioned above; I beg readers of PN Review to read it: it is wholly magnificent). 'No more than three dozen' is the figure The Oxford Companion to Welsh Literature gives, and Bruce Griffiths more or less concurs when he speaks of 'the thirty or so poems'. Exactly thirty-six poems have been translated by Clancy, so that it would seem that we ...


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