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

INCONSOLABLE David Brooks, The Cold Front (Sydney: Hale and Iremonger) Aust. $11.95, $55.95 pb.

This is the first collection by a young poet whose work has previously appeared in widely scattered journals in the United States and Canada as well as in Australia. United, the poems stand all of a piece: strong, but bare, bones, as if in the rejection of anything which might be thought to be 'rhetorical', Brooks had rigorously denied himself the consolations of word-play. These poems are confessional and personal, the acute perceptions of a man in pain, waiting in desolation for some promise, some revelation, that he can only hope against hope may come. This expectation marks 'Hypothesis', the central poem, in which the poet commits himself to himself in a paradox in which solipsism becomes the ultimate in self-effacement. It is the commitment to the wait which saves these poems from despair, explicit only in 'This Life'. The affirmation in this poem is the only link to what is, in other ways, a moving contrast to most of Brooks's own work, an excellent translation of Milosz's 'Campo di Fiori'. There is no retreat from craft in these short pieces: the poems are dense, and the tensions Brooks creates depend ultimately on an underlying iambic pulse against which the free verse moves, as in this extract from a lyric to a child:

I would tell her
that nothing will tear
the branches from this tree
or lift again
the shielding from our roof

but I have adulterous

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