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This article is taken from Poetry Nation 5 Number 5, 1975.

The Poetry of Elizabeth Daryush Donald Davie


WHEN AN unprejudiced literary history of our century comes to be written, our failure to recognize Elizabeth Daryush will be one of the most telling and lamentable charges that can be laid at our door. The cold silence that has prevailed about her work, through one decade after another, is so total that there can be no question of fixing the blame here or there, finding scapegoats. We are all at fault, in a way which points therefore to some really deep-seated frivolity, superficiality, cynicism through several generations of readers of English poetry.

Certainly, I cannot absolve myself. For it so happens that I had the good fortune to stumble, while I was still young, on the writings of the one critic who did recognize the achievement of this poet, who tried not once but many times to force his contemporaries to confront the challenge of her work. I mean, the late Yvor Winters. And why, I now angrily ask myself, did I, who knew that I had been instructed by Winters time and again about the poetry of our time and the past, flinch from the responsibility that his championing of Mrs. Daryush laid upon me as upon others who listened to him - some of whom, incidentally, rose to the occasion as I didn't? I have given the answer: mere frivolousness, an anxiety not to be too far out of the fashion, above all a demand for quick returns upon a very small investment ...


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