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This article is taken from PN Review 39, Volume 11 Number 1, July - August 1984.

C.H. Sisson Robert Wells

The first poem by C. H. Sisson that I read was 'Numbers', which I found in Agenda when I was fifteen or sixteen. This group of epigrams, with the combination - now familiar - of delicacy and harshness, disgust and lyrical apprehension, stood out at once amid the surrounding verse and attached itself to my memory. I used to spend hours poring over the small magazines, absorbing their contents indiscriminately with the concentrated revery of adolescent reading. I knew that in this case I had found something good. But I didn't know that where there is one good poem there are always more to be found - and though I used to turn back to 'Numbers', I didn't follow up my discovery; I was too much under the spell of the poetry owners. But this foretaste meant that when In the Trojan Ditch came out about ten years later I picked the book off the shelf with expectation. I was working in a bookshop then - so that I saw it as soon as it appeared. I remember taking the book down to the engineering department where I was posted and spending as much of the day as I could in covert reading. A day or so later I bought two more copies to send to friends. The discoveries which one makes for oneself are hard to describe or recapture. Someone was speaking in the poems, and I knew that I could hear. Excitement and pleasure are not the ...


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