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

The Poetry of Charles Causley Edward Levy

Union Street, which appeared in 1957, might be said to prefigure Charles Causley's Collected Poems: 1951-1975. There too the poems of previous collections had been gathered in, with a group of new poems forming the final section of the book. Edith Sitwell's enthusiastic preface to the earlier collection suggests that Causley had graduated to the communion of inspired mid-century bards-Dylan Thomas, Sidney Keyes-whose praises she had earlier sung so generously. While Collected Poems has no such preface, it has been universally approved-by the deferential as well as the warmly appreciative. John Fuller, in his Times Literary Supplement review, didn't disguise his impatience with some Causley qualities, yet rounded off in these terms: 'But however [Causley] develops, this book stands as a tribute to an essential function of verse: the power to enchant.'

Such remarks are, I think, notably vague compared with Causley's own authoritative, sometimes gnomic, but always tough utterances about his poetry and poetry in general. There is a danger that in the case of a poet such as Causley, his evident 'power to enchant' may be seized on as a means of glossing over the complexities in his canon of work; so that he remains no more than a canny eccentric, an encouraging entertainer. Alternatively, an admirer of the Sitwellian kind may be equally unsatisfactory-the poet who enchants remaining no more than the inspired, enchanting poet. In fact, the words 'enchant' and 'charm' are central to Causley's work; but their full meaning may only be ...


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