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This review is taken from PN Review 52, Volume 13 Number 2, November - December 1986.

POET AS PEACOCK Selected Poems of John Fuller 1954-1982 (Secker & Warburg) £8.95

It is not, I suppose, entirely to be wondered at that the earliest recorded (recorded in this book, that is) efforts from the pen of the author of A Readers' Guide to W. H. Auden should sound not a little like - W. H. Auden; what is perhaps more to be wondered at is the fact that the echoes, after nearly a quarter of a century of published collections - nine for adults and six for children (yes, Fuller is a prolific and various poet), not to mention a brace of novels (one, Flying to Nowhere, short-listed for the Booker Prize), a study of the sonnet, and a critical edition of the works of John Gay - have not ceased, have not ceased . . .

It is in all things, large and small: the snatches of paysage moralisé; the urbanity of the narrative voice; certain tricks of language and style - does not the line 'the unbelieved, the uncaressed, the terrified,' for example, remind us of 'Sonnets from China'?; is the following not a little reminiscent of late Auden when he is in that mood of not trying too hard; when his poetry has descended to the level of a rather lazy man's travelogue - albeit a highly educated one: 'The sea is much visited here, whose colours are cooler/And life uncertain as well it might be in/The earth's tears'; in the verse forms, including that collection of verse letters to friends which was published in ...


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