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This review is taken from PN Review 72, Volume 16 Number 4, March - April 1990.

A LYRICAL INTELLECT Clere Parsons, The Air Between: Poems of Clere Parsons, with an introduction by T. W. Sutherland and an afterword by Edouard Roditi (Cloud, 48 Biddlestone Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 5SL). £4.50

Hands up those who have never heard of Clere Parsons! Many, one gathers, have not, even among the relatively few who actually care for poetry, and among those - much more numerous - who merely push around among the reputations of the poetry trade he is, to all intents and purposes, completely unknown. This is hardly surprising, for his single volume of 18 short poems appeared in 1932 and has not been reprinted. But now there will be no excuse for ignorance, for The Air Between contains the eighteen poems and adds four more.

Parsons was born in 1908 and died in 1931, so all we have is the remains of a young man whose work had hardly begun, but those who know the difference between chalk and cheese will recognise a talent which promised a clarity and tunefulness which might have put him with Collins or even with Campion. Campion lived to be 53 and Collins to be 38 and one cannot expect a like achievement here, but if I disagree with anything in T.W. Sutherland's excellent, but brief, introduction to this volume it is with his suggestion that the style of Parsons 'will have most appeal to admirers of MacNeice'. I have no doubt that the poetic talent of Parsons was of an altogether different order.

Geoffrey Grigson, to whose notice in his Recollections (1984) Sutherland draws attention, speaks of the poems as 'exquisite, grave, artificial, and permanent'. The adjectives are well chosen. ...


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