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This review is taken from PN Review 44, Volume 11 Number 6, July - August 1985.

THE ART SO LONG TO LEARN Mary Barnard, Assault on Mount Helion, a Literary Memoir (University of California Press) $19.95

Pound first turned against England from disappointment, because he failed to find leadership there for what later became the modern movement in poetry. His hopes I believe had been pinned on Binyon. To organize a generation into a movement is a normal act of social aggression that has nothing to do with poetry. But many young writers seek advice from anyone whose name occurs to them, the more famous the better, including the greatest figures they can find, the purest ideal figures. Lack of acquaintance is no bar, and the packages of home-made poetry flop through letter-boxes indiscriminately. The hungry sheep look up and are not fed. All poetry is home-made. Real poets feel the need for advice and recognition before publishing as much as those to whom poetry is merely private activity or a hobby, those without talent and those to whom poetry is a pretentious form of diary. All these categories overlap of course.

One of the marks of the ones who will emerge as real poets is their discrimination in addressing only the few older writers who can really teach them something, rather than professors, writers in residence and poets laureate; another is their dogged persistence as writers. Yet another is often the intelligence and distinction of their letters, the expression of individuality and of integrity. Even so the great men do not always respond; they have been had before. When Philip Larkin circulated his privately printed pamphlet of poems, he did not get ...


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