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This review is taken from PN Review 10, Volume 6 Number 2, November - December 1979.

TOREADORS AND OTHERS Osten Sjöstrand, The Hidden Music, translated by Robin Fulton (Oleander Press) £1.05
Sheenagh Pugh, Crowded by Shadows (Christopher Davies) 75p.
Bramwell Jones, Cadence Notes (Christopher Davies) 60p.
Philip Ward, Impostors And Their Imitators (Oleander Press) £1.35
Jon Dressel, Hard Love And A Country (Christopher Davies) 90p.

The poet must preserve a spiritual vigilance. Whether he does so by working through the "commonplace" or by reacting against it, he should attempt "This elevation of the spirit above the semblances of custom and the senses . . . without which our organic life is but a state of somnambulism", as Coleridge wrote at the outset of the industrial revolution that has now so increased the uniformity and habitual nature of life.

Osten Sjöstrand, a selection of whose poems written between 1955 and 1971 is translated, together with extracts from his critical writing, in The Hidden Music, believes that "the most important function of poetry is its ability to preserve our capacity to react", and that "Now it is art that matters: not the ballerina and not the devotees of free dance, but the toreador confronting the bull's sharpened horns". Confrontation is an important poetic means for him: "Counter-Statements, Contrary Lights" and "Counter Images" are the titles of two of his later and most forceful poems which work out the poet's defence against "the laws of inertia" and the "searchlight world of catchwords". His defence is a solitary, mystical one and he justifies his mysticism by the dematerialization of matter in scientific thought. He admires science for its precision and he likes to use its vocabulary to give a physical grounding in metaphysical or surrealistic contexts. And this attempt at precise language, though not always as successful in pinning down its context as he perhaps intended, ...


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