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Monthly Carcanet Books

This review is taken from PN Review 93, Volume 20 Number 1, September - October 1993.

DELIVERED UP TO FICTION F.T. PRINCE, Collected Poems 1935-1992 (Carcanet) £25.00

For someone born in 1912 the Second World War, its preludes and aftermaths, broke upon life, not as for those born a few years later, with the start of maturity, but as an interruption of what had already begun. IT. Prince reflects in 'Memoirs in Oxford' how 1931 was just the beginning, which 'only made it worse/For those beginning absolutely - /The sense of everything acutely/Set going in reverse.' 'Walks in Rome' finds him remembering 'the post-war post/strength and decision' but, unlike the figure in his Afterword on Rupert Brooke', able to 'grow old, eat dirt and be satisfied'. The late 1940s are described as 'not post the sense of waste, /and dull old self-division.' By 1939 Prince had published a first volume of poems, a volume which opens with the extraordinarily accomplished An Epistle to a Patron'. It might have been freely adapted from Leonardo's letter to Ludovico Sforza, with glances at Pound's Malatesta Cantos and Adrian Stokes; by the end, the poem has become a fictive address to the tyrannical reader, closing 'I have simply hope, and I submit me/To your judgement which will be just.'

It is a poem that fits the description of himself given in 'Not a Paris Review Interview' where a beginner in'The Twenties, anywhere,! Had at once to be aware/Of the Moderns and their kin.' In the list of poets that follows there is no mention of W.H.Auden, who had decisively altered the landscape into which Prince entered between his ...

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