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This review is taken from PN Review 37, Volume 10 Number 5, March - April 1984.

DEVIOUS PATHS AND DREAD ABODES Peter Riley, Tracks and Mineshafts (Grosseteste) £3.50
Peter Riley, Two Essays (Grosseteste) £1.20
Thomas A. Clark, Twenty Poems (Grosseteste) £1.20
Tim Longville, Seven Elephants And One Eye (Grosseteste) £3.50
Nick Totton, Radio Times (Grosseteste) £2.50
John James, Berlin Return (Grosseteste/Ferry/Délires) £3.50

When the history of recent British poetry comes to be written, the persistence of Romanticism may well form the main theme. These Grosseteste books are not Romantic in any 'late' or otherwise pejorative sense. But they are all situated, in their different ways, within Romantic questionings of the self, its landscapes, its loves and its death. The most fundamental Romantic myth was of course drawn from religion; the projection of a paradise. Poets since Wordsworth have divided into light and dark, positive and negative, in their approach to it. To the heirs of Shelley or Whitman, paradise is to be constructed: to the inheritors of Baudelaire and the modified Romanticism of the city, paradise is fugitive, or past; attainable only in glimpses, or a love now lost. On the strength of these new books, the myth and the division are as potent now as they ever were.

For Peter Riley, a moment of darkness comes at the end of the second of his Two Essays, 'Fragment (Theses on Dream)': 'Isn't death's moment the only actual whole there is, the actual consummation which includes all possibilities?' The only moment at which fallen man may be reintegrated, the lost unity regained, may come ironically not in life but in the leaving of it. However, Riley leaves it to us to decide whether that conclusion be the climax to his book or more simply an afterthought on the afterlife. In Tracks and Mineshafts (to which book of poems and prose ...


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