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

FROM GARDEN TO WILDERNESS Michael Hamburger, Real Estate, Carcanet, £2.50 cloth, £1.95 paper
Grevel Lindop, Fools' Paradise, Carcanet, £2.00
F. T. Prince, Afterword on Rupert Brooke, Menard Press, £0.65
Peter Redgrove, From Every Chink Of The Ark, Routledge & Kegan Paul, £4.95

DESPITE seven volumes of his own poetry, Michael Hamburger is still thought of as primarily a translator (our best from German) and critic; that our awareness (our opportunity to be aware, one should say) of German verse has expanded unprecedentedly in the past dozen years is largely to his credit. Yet, in Real Estate (a Poetry Book Society Choice) Hamburger is as ever a distinctly English poet in subject and sensibility. The greater fluency and openness of his recent work (contrasting with the rather cramped poems of the 1950s) can be attributed to European influences, which he has usually assimilated-here, only "Two Photographs", using the sardonic understatement of Brecht and Enzensberger, seems derivative (and nevertheless effective). Most of Hamburger's poems, with their motifs of landscape and nature, fit comfortably into the major English tradition. Sometimes far too comfortably: in "Gardening" and "Weeding" (one could postulate almost the entire poems from the titles alone) Hamburger does little with his subject's obvious associations of growth and decay, weeds, "Ripeness is all", Adam. These lines


Most of the time it's enough
That a green tip shows,
Confirming you in the freedom to see
The flowering due next year
("Gardening")


make the reader-not to mention a gardenful of poets from Marvell to the present-do the work. Of course, Hamburger is far from uniquely culpable; for any poet, the redolent symbolism of gardens can be a great lure to drowsiness of thought ...


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