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

OCCASIONS ROY FULLER, Last Poems (Sinclair Stevenson) £7.99
WILLIAM SCAMMELL, Five Easy Pieces (Sinclair Stevenson) £7.99
DERICK THOMPSON, Bramble of Hope (Canongate) £8.95

Should poetry be an occasional art, practised only on those infrequent occasions when the lightning strikes, or a full-time activity, the writer sitting at his/her desk every day assaying a set target of lines on whichever topics present themselves to the pen? Evidence for such a dissertation from two poets of the second persuasion is provided by the books under review. And that, as well as their publisher, is not the only thing Fuller and Scammell have in common. They may belong to different generations, but they both exhibit a wide range of historical, artistic and political awareness, both favour verse-forms of a traditional nature, and both have fruitfully absorbed the Auden influence.

Roy Fuller's best work was in his war poems of the 1940s and his mythical and mythological poems of the 1950s. He became extremely prolific in the 1980s: apart form a New and Collected in 1985, there were three further collections. And now a substantial posthumous Last Poems.

The poems of the last decade of Fuller's life have provoked comparisons with Hardy, Yeats and Stevens. These judgements seem to me to be wide of the mark. For the most part this volume is versified ruminations. Some of them might have been better off as prose, and some if they had remained diary entries. They occasioned in me the reflection that the only difference between the educated man's jottings and those of the uneducated man are that the former's bear the marks of ...


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