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This poem is taken from PN Review 70, Volume 16 Number 2, November - December 1989.

Letter to Thom Gunn Clive Wilmer

You won't recall them now - 'The Burial Mound',
'Valhalla', 'The Dead Warrior' - poems which sound
Too much like half-cooked, over-seasoned stews
Of tough ingredients culled from Gunn and Hughes
('Thistles', 'The Byrnies', 'The Burial of the Dead',
'The Warriors of the North'). Hard man, you read
My gauche effusions with such tolerance
And courtesy, you did not look askance
At what, derived from you, partook of truth
Though twisted by the fantasies of youth;
You taught me form, reminding me of sense
When rhetoric or modish violence
Deformed a phrase or rhythm; you deferred
To nothing but economy of word.

But that was not the start of it. I had
At seventeen - such a discerning lad! -

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