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This article is taken from PN Review 41, Volume 11 Number 3, January - February 1985.

The Poetry of A.D. Hope Ruth Morse

. . . al this accordaunce of thynges is bounde
with love, that governeth erthe and see,
and hath also comandement to the hevene.
And yif this love slakede the bridelis,
alle thynges that now loven hem togidres
wolden make batayle contynuely, and stryven
to fordo the fassoun of this world . . . and
love enditeth lawes.
Boethius, De Consolatione Philosophiae
trans. Geoffrey Chaucer

Alec Hope was once asked by a television interviewer why he was so obsessed with sex. In the essay he subsequently wrote about this experience, he confesses himself - somewhat disingenuously, perhaps - to have been taken aback by the question. To the television audience he explained that he thought he had been writing about love. To the reader of the essay he dilates upon the difficulties that poets experience, most acutely, if not uniquely among artists, in establishing distance from their work. One might think the negative capability a commonplace hardly worth rehearsing, were it not that sex - or love - remains such a privileged (or perhaps unprivileged) subject. Hope's gift with it lies in his expansion of the traditional patterns of love and courtesy to include physical sexuality - the acts of love as well as the spectrum of its emotions - reflected upon with exceptional insight, candour, and intelligence. He is never explicit merely to shock or arouse, and therefore never pornographic; the details of ...

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