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PN Review 276
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This review is taken from PN Review 32, Volume 9 Number 6, July - August 1983.

COMPETENCE & COMPLACENCY Robert Penn Warren Rumor Verified (Seeker & Warburg) £5.95
Anne Stevenson, Minute by Glass Minute (O.U.P.) £4.50
Reginald Gibbons, The Ruined Motel (Houghton Mifflin) $5.95
John Yau, Broken off by the Music (Burning Deck) $4.00
George Starbuck, The Argot Merchant Disaster (Secker & Warburg) £5.95
Barry Spacks, Spacks Street (Johns Hopkins) £9.00
Harvey Mudd, The Plain of Smokes (Black Sparrow Press) $6.50

When Berryman published His Toy, His Dream, His Rest on his fifty-fourth birthday, Lowell wrote to him, 'What I like is your ease in getting out everything - I mean everything in your experience, thought, personality etc. mills thru the poetry. I think age helps; but most poets are dwindled by age. Like you I want to go out walking.' Robert Penn Warren, older by a decade than Berryman and Lowell, is still getting out everything, is still walking. Rumor Verified, as the jacket informs us with just pride, is his fourth book of poems in eight years. It is ample, gorgeous, sweeping - its moments of jingle and garishness are simply swept aside. It could put one in mind of the mountains and seashores that occur in so many of the poems.

The rumor of the title is the rumor of death, and throughout the book Mr Penn Warren pits his own mortality against the enduring, elemental presences of landscape: 'The sun,/Man to man, stares you straight in the eye.' The unequal nature of the confrontation is made up for by the sheer human pride manifested in it, and by the resourcefulness and energy of the language used to describe it. Thus, in the ambiguously named 'Going West', the poet's delirium of great spaces is rudely interrupted:

I do not see, sudden out of
A scrub clump, the wing-burst. See only
The bloody explosion, right in my face,
On ...

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