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

BETWEEN THE HEATHER AND THE WALL Pete Morgan, A Winter Visitor (Secker & Warburg) £5.50

This is Pete Morgan's third collection and his best so far. His earlier books, The Grey Mare Being the Better Steed and The Spring Collection, contained much good work but ultimately seemed to be boxes of poems rather than unified collections. In A Winter Visitor Morgan displays a new tone of voice and an even greater depth of expression.

All the poems are set in and around Robin Hood's Bay, a village on the North Yorkshire coast which, as Morgan's mother once said, is 'falling into the sea'. On one level the poems are a fascinating topographical and sociological record of a community which, after the tourists have gone, is as isolated and insular as it ever was; on a deeper level they explore the questions of rootlessness and exile. In his previous books, especially in The Spring Collection, Morgan made much of the persona of The Poet, especially in poems like 'The Poet's Deaths', 'The Poem With Yellow Hair' and 'Black/White' in which he writes 'The Poet/the seeker after truth,/is aware of no truth: certainly'. In A Winter Visitor The Poet does not appear, and this seems to make the seeking after truth, which fills the book, somehow more authentic.

The sense of being away from the centre of things is there from the first pages in 'Voices Off': 'Here in the wings of England/All is well.' And later in the poem: 'The world's at loggerheads and blooms/ With nothing but her tragi-comedy/But all ...


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