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PN Review 276
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This review is taken from PN Review 38, Volume 10 Number 6, May - June 1984.

PAYING FOR THE BRIDEGROOM'S SHOES Anthony Hecht, A Love for Four Voices (Mandeville Press, 2 Taylor's Hill, Hitchin, Herts.) £3.00
John Loveday, From the Old Foundry (Mandeville) £1.25
Ian Caws, Village Under the Sea (Mandeville) £1.00
Graham Thomas, The One Place (Poetry Wales Press, Green Hollows Cottage, Craig-yr-Eos Road, Ogmore-by-Sea, Mid Glamorgan) £2.95
Joyce Herbert, Approaching Snow (Poetry Wales Press) £2.95 Kathleen Jamie, Black Spiders (Salamander Press, 73 Morningside Park, Edinburgh, EH10 5EZ) £5.00, £2.50 pb.
Sacha Rabinowitch, Heroes and Others (Yorick Press, 32 Cossington Road, Canterbury, Kent) £1.50
Nissim Ezekiel, Latter-Day Psalms, (OUP Delhi) £2.50
Matthew Sweeney, A Round House (Allison and Busby) £3.50
Sebastian Barry, The Water Colourist (The Dolmen Press) £4.00

The Mandeville Press only recently issued a sequence of poems based on a Shakespeare play (John Gohorry's The Coast of Bohemia, which embroiders on A Winter's Tale) and now they are doing it again with Anthony Hecht's A Love for Four Voices which takes its characters from A Midsummer Night's Dream. The sequence is subtitled 'Homage to Franz Joseph Haydn' and we are supposed to imagine a Haydn string quartet, though it would be a peculiar quartet in which each instrument played solo in turn, as Hecht's characters willy-nilly must apart from the odd unison tutti; the analogy creaks a little. Besides, to my ear Haydn sounds a robust, no-nonsense, open-air sort of a composer able to make the simple virtues (like not straying too far from the home key) credible and touching; Hecht's tone is largely ironic, camp, self-mocking. As in a great deal of recent formal verse (e.g., on this side of the Atlantic, John Fuller's) there is an implication that we are all knowing aristocratic refugees from a lost and loved rococo (who are we kidding?); the vocabulary delights in words that relish their tasteful swagger - 'superb', 'aureate', 'bechrystalled' and the like - and in nudgingly clever puns, 'civilization and its discothèques', 'a tender Juvenal', 'post oak and propter oak' (though I cannot see what that last means). Haydn and Shakespeare, Auden's The Sea and the Mirror lurking somewhere in the background, a plethora of cultural references en passant, perhaps a glance at the notion ...

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