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

AN IMAGINATION ALIVE WITH GOODNESS Alun Lewis: a Miscellany of his Writings, edited by John Pikoulis (Poetry Wales Press) £6.95, £3.50 pb.

Now that Edward Thomas is such a fashionable poet, perhaps Alun Lewis will be re-discovered as it were in his shadow, before new readers come to Lewis's work for its own sake. His most anthologized poem, 'All day it has rained . . .', so reminiscent of Thomas in its cadences and closing with his death, 'may be said to inaugurate his career as a poet', John Pikoulis remarks (introduction to section IV).

As with Thomas, it took a war to give Lewis his poetic voice, though he had been writing - this miscellany demonstrates - to serious purpose since his schooldays. The earliest stories are vigorous and questing, and end in death, seen in a slightly romanticized way - whether bloodied or peaceful - not surprising in a fifteen or sixteen-year-old boy. The lively if consciously literary 'Memories of Childhood' recalls two brothers 'resolved to run away and take a ship', pacified with Bovril and a slice of cake, 'content to stay the night without going to India even once'. This reads sadly now, with our knowledge that Lewis did take ship for India, and met his death on that continent.

But the glamour of those boyish stories exists alongside a sharp consciousness of the harsh world of Wales in the 1930s: 'hard work and imagination' were what Lewis remembered of and admired in his grandfather, and the marriage of the two seems to have been a family tradition. Lewis won scholarships to school, ...


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