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This article is taken from PN Review 9, Volume 6 Number 1, September - October 1979.

on Edgell Rickword Dr Simon Collier
His father was Colchester's first Borough Librarian, and Edgell Rickword himself tells us that the proximity of his cradle to the book-stack probably determined his destiny. Other local influences can be traced. An early scene witnessed here, a lock-out of engineers not long before the First World War, helped to enlist his sympathies in the cause of Socialism, which in various forms has been for him a life-long inspiration. Like so many others of his generation he went from school (in this case the Royal Grammar School) into the Army. As a subaltern of nineteen he saw for himself the devastation of the trenches, and was twice wounded. These experiences were soon to be translated into poetry-poetry with a sharp cutting edge, a more savage bite, perhaps, than was common even among the poets of that terrible time. After the war he had a short spell at Oxford on a service scholarship. Since that time he has lived, moved and had his being entirely (or almost entirely) in the world of letters, as poet (his first book of poems came out in 1921), as critic, reviewer, editor, and later on as publisher and bookseller too.

It is of course an impossible task to predict the names of those twentieth-century poets whom the readers of the future will choose as having been the flower of the age. It is somewhat easier to say which poems the twentieth century itself would like to send forward into the future as, so to ...


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