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This review is taken from PN Review 66, Volume 15 Number 4, March - April 1989.

A WHOLE DESIGN Jeremy Hooker, Master of the Leaping Figures, Enitharmon Press, £5.00 pb

At the threshold of Jeremy Hooker's new collection stands the representative figure of a medieval scribe, the 'Master of the Leaping Figures' of the volume's title, an artist engaged in the task - which is, of course, the poet's too - of 'illuminating the Word'. Transcending the limitations of brute humanity and of his own moment in history, the Master reaches back through time to the cultures of 'Rome, / Byzantium, Ireland / and the Viking north', outward beyond the world's potentially restrictive horizons and, assuming an explicitly prophetic role, forward into the future; he is

      the prophet who is one
fire with the horses of fire,
blazing against the blue
of a midsummer night-sky
with a rim of gold;
a man barely contained
by the frame holding him
who leaps in flesh of flame
in a world on fire, burning
in the mantle that he passes on.

Hooker's identification with the Master is clear: as he himself delineates a figure who 'leaps in flesh of flame', he fuses with his own creation and, by implication, takes up the proffered mantle. Like the scribe, he suggests, the poet is a focus for energies not entirely his own, a node at which the apparently disparate fragments of the universe converge and are given relationship and meaning; and it is in this conception of his own calling, in his concern to express his Blakean ...

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