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This review is taken from PN Review 51, Volume 13 Number 1, September - October 1986.

TYPECAST Hugo Williams, Writing Home (OUP) £3.95 pb.
John Lehmann, Poems New and Selected (Enitharmon) £8.50,£4.95 pb.
D. W. Hartnett, A Signalled Love (Anvil) £3.95 pb.
Charles Johnston, Selected Poems (Bodley Head) £4.50 pb.
John Heath-Stubbs, The Immolation of Aleph (Carcanet) £4.95 pb.

As so many of the readers of any serious journal about poetry are likely to be more or less poets, these journals are the right place for professional, technical criticisms, but not only for those, because a book of poems is a human gesture, and particularly in the case of senior poets one wants to raise one's hat in gratitude and respect. So youthful and raging critics who are in a hurry to substitute new, higher standards for those of their elders must look elsewhere than this review. Such critics are mistaken, except in so far as within the limits of their own lifework they can create something better. Successive generations of them have done us all a critical disservice by pushing hard-edged and hard-centred poetry at the expense of all else. My admiration for the poets reviewed is genuine, though they are a very mixed bag. They do not represent a fashion or a generation. They are not so much dated as typecast by their earlier work, and even then with significant exceptions.

It is thrilling after so long a silence to welcome a new or at least newish book of poems by John Lehmann. One can see from the fascinating and in some cases excellent poems recently reprinted in the Penguin New Writing 1940-50, just what English verse was like when he was one of its presiding genii, but I do not think he falls quite within its limitations, or seems dated by them. He ...

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