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This review is taken from PN Review 126, Volume 25 Number 4, March - April 1999.

TOO LATE FOR PLANET EARTH? MICHAEL HAMBURGER, Late (Anvil) £7.95 Agenda, XXXV, 3 (Autumn 1997), 'A Tribute to Michael Hamburger', £4.90

Fans of Michael Hamburger's poetry will welcome the Agenda 'Tribute to Michael Hamburger', which should also serve to draw new readers to his work. As well as sixteen pages of Hamburger's recent poetry, Iain Galbraith, probably his best critic, draws parallels between Hamburger and John Clare and Heaney (though curiously not Edward Thomas), Stephen Romer surveys Hamburger's poetic oeuvre of nearly sixty years, Michael Schmidt, his previous publisher, argues that it is as a poet rather than critic or translator that Hamburger will primarily be remembered, Christopher Middleton reminisces about his long friendship with Hamburger - and there is much more. The poet himself on his poetry may be read in Michael Hamburger in Conversation with Peter Dale (BTL, 9 Woodstock Rd., London N4 3ET, £10).

The Agenda 'Tribute' includes the opening of Late, which appeared soon after. Its fifty pages comprise a long poem in nine untitled sections, each made up of five or six untitled sub-sections. The cyclical form echoes the movement of the earth in the solar system, passing from autumn through the seasons to another autumn. References to 'a mock-spring, mock-summer', that at first seem to reflect the traditional British love-hate attitude toward our weather, in context evince apprehension at humaninduced climatic changes.

The dominance of autumn points up the title, which refers to the stage in life of the poet (aged seventy-three on publication) and to the stage of humankind and our use or abuse of the earth. 'Late' has ...


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