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This review is taken from PN Review 8, Volume 5 Number 4, July - September 1979.

FOUR OUT OF FIVE Marcus Cumberlege, Firelines, Anvil, £1.95.
Philip Holmes, A Place to Stand, Anvil, £2.25.
Sally Purcell, Dark of Day, Anvil, £1.60.
Tom Lowenstein, The Death of Mrs Owl, Anvil, £1.95.
George Pavlopoulos, The Cellar, Anvil, £1.60.

Peter Jay's Anvil Press does poetry good service: from this batch of nicely-printed books we have one indisputably fine and in-dispensible poet, three good poets confirmed in second collections, and one first book whose value I would question (but which we could argue about).

Marcus Cumberlege is one of the good ones and, at his best, he is a master of the deftly-rhymed, self-contained lyric. The best poems come mostly from his first section entitled "The Sun Dial"-those quatrains which avoid the occasional slip into slightness or sentimentality and that dangerous over-condensing that leaves a poem cryptic, unsatisfying, or privately hoarded. Cumberlege works and thinks in images and in some of his poems individual metaphors are often each one perfectly just but there is a tendency for them, together, to tangle, so that a poem becomes a net entangling experience rather than a place experience can inhabit. One can distinguish in this section and elsewhere in the book those poems that are concentrated, that are going to repay re-reading, from poems that are nearer to the more marketable products designed for Readings-poems that will read well as distinct from those that make good reading In this latter mode, Cumberlege's successful poems can be found in section three, "Harmonia's Necklace", where we have more than carefully posed and poised pictures of the West of Ireland-we have fleshed-out accounts of life-lived, spiced with an attractive irony: the eyes are not fixed and concentrated on close-up but pan about, taking ...


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