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This article is taken from PN Review 88, Volume 19 Number 2, November - December 1992.

Discovering Davie Bernard Bergonzi

I FIRST CAME ACROSS Donald Davie's work when I was twenty. I subscribed to a little magazine called Prospect, which described itself as 'the voice of the younger generation' and had published one of my own earliest poems. The summer 1949 issue contained two contributions from Donald A. Davie, as he then styled himself: a short article, 'Towards a New Poetic Diction', which outlined ideas later developed in Davie's Purity of Diction in English Verse; and a poem, 'Tiger at the Movie-Show'. I can't remember how I reacted to it then, but looking it up after many years I found it a poised and elegant composition, and worth reprinting, since it has never been collected. Davie tells me that he has no recollection of writing this poem or of publishing it in Prospect, but he has sportingly permitted me to reproduce it:

TIGER AT THE MOVIE-SHOW

I was never impressed, when they presented
'Culture' as a mesh of learned letters,
Weaving a basket for Europe, to keep together fragments
Against a future dawn. Of course, from time to time,
After 'Mädchen in Uniform,' after
'Marie-Louise' (to take a couple of films),
I felt what the beaky poet had implied
With his broken columns, and the pigeons pecking
And the rough basket, piled on a cart
With the parrot and the family bible, when the bombers
   come.

At bottom it will all become a ...


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