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This article is taken from PN Review 183, Volume 35 Number 1, September - October 2008.

An English Poet Reads Wallace Stevens Bernard Bergonzi

Until 1953 Wallace Stevens was not widely read or even much known about in Britain, apart from the few poems in the Faber Book of Modern Verse. Then, by strange mischance, two different Selected Poems appeared, one from Faber and one from the Fortune Press; the latter was withdrawn from circulation. In 1955, the year when Stevens died, Faber published his Colected Poems, followed by Opus Posthumous in 1959. With nice timing, in 1960 Frank Kermode brought out a magisterial little book on Stevens which made critical sense of him for British readers. Yet in the early 1940s a young English poet had already been reading the great American modernist with close, admiring attention.

This was Nicholas Moore (1918-86), who is now, so to speak, remembered for being forgotten. In the war years Moore wrote copiously, published several volumes of verse and contributed to all the little magazines of the day - he has the largest number of entries in the index to A.T. Tolley's informative recent study British Literary Periodicals of World War II & Aftermath. But after 1945 the wartime poetry boom collapsed and Moore, who had been over-exposed, lost his audience. His career as a poet suffered a dreadful blow in 1950. In that year he published Recollections of the Gala; a substantial and distinguished collection which contains much of his best work. But it received ...


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