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This review is taken from PN Review 6, Volume 5 Number 2, January - March 1979.

MAKING LIGHT Thomas Blackburn, Selected Poems, Hutchinson, £2.95.
Thomas Blackburn, Post Mortem, Rondo Publications, £1.95. [The death of Thomas Blackburn was announced shortly after this review was written.]

One imagines that Thomas Blackburn was propelled into poetry by the later Yeats and by the Graves of the less self-confident, and better, period. The former comes through, in ringing tones, in some of the poems in the earlier part of the Selected:

Take off your shoes and bare your feet,
For on this holy ground
Spirit and animal are one;
Such burning hem them round,
It seems beatitude is flesh
Within a finger's span.
'That may be so', said the woman.
'I am not sure', said the man.


For all things seem to figure out
The stirring of your heart,
And two men pick the turnips up
And two men pull the cart;

Graves, perhaps more usefully, suggested a direction rather than a pattern. Anyhow, the mould of Yeats was broken, and the direction pointed in the end to no-one but Blackburn himself. We then have the mature poet, who has been with us ever since, and has recently added Post Mortem to his not inconsiderable list of books.

This mature poet is an odd one. One is struck, first of all, by the sheer, unpretentious readability of his verse. The first thing about any book-and one by no means to be taken for granted-is that it can be read. These books can. But, as one reads, one becomes ...

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