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PN Review 276
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This review is taken from PN Review 68, Volume 15 Number 6, July - August 1989.

LIGHT AND DARK Jean Earle, Visiting Light (Poetry Wales Press) £3.95 pb
Hilary Llewellyn-Williams, The Tree Calendar (Poetry Wales Press) £3.95 pb
Frances Williams, Flotsam (Poetry Wales Press) £3.50 pb
Gwyn Parry, The Hurricane (Poetry Wales Press) £2.95 pb
Kate Johnson, Gods (Poetry Wales Press) £2.95 pb

The opening lines of the first poem in Jean Earle's new collection of poems immediately make an impression, which the book as a whole confirms:

What we are hangs upon that moment -
Which will come -
When the cross is taken in the warp
And the weave is certain.

The voice has authority: poetic authority, a technique capable of thinking and feeling through the poem, which compels attention. And what the technique works on is a lifetime of experience - Jean Earle is now in her late seventies; Visiting Light is her third volume of poems - so that, in this case, the authority is rooted in emotional depth, tried values, wisdom. Initially the authority may seem also to rest on a confident vision, on what Jean Earle calls, again in the first poem, "The Woollen Mill", her awareness of "a true pattern. // To do with light..." A visionary quality associated with light does indeed pervade the book. As in the title poem, the poet frequently sees in the everyday world a "visiting light", a light "Flushing up - vanishing". She has not lost " 'strangeness' / Delicate lens / Tinting the common sight", which is "grace to see / Natural lambency about the creatures" ("Walking Home"). The book is set partly in south Wales but has a wide range, and wide sympathies, extending from personal and historical experience to the whole earth, subject to the ...

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