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This review is taken from PN Review 27, Volume 9 Number 1, September - October 1982.

OUT FROM THE SHADOWS Bernard Spencer, Collected Poems, ed. Roger Bowen (Oxford) £8.50
Alun Lewis, Selected Poems, ed. Jeremy Hooker and Gweno Lewis (Allen & Unwin) £2.50

Bernard Spencer, who was born in the same year as Stephen Spender and was a frequent contributor to New Verse, might have been remembered as a poet of the 1930s if it were not for the accident that his first book, Aegean Islands and other poems, did not appear until 1946. By then his experience of England in the 1930s had been enlarged by life in Greece and Egypt in the 1940s. But his basic style and stance did not change; the continuity of Spencer's poetry shows just how arbitrary is the convenient periodization in surveys of modern literature, where the 'social realist' 1930s are instantly replaced in 1940 by the 'neo-romantic' 1940s. Spencer published only one other collection of poems in his lifetime, With Luck Lasting (incorporating some poems which had first appeared in a limited edition published at Reading University in 1960), a few months before his accidental death in Vienna in September 1963. His first Collected Poems, published by Alan Ross in 1965, contains his two published volumes and a group of poems written in the last year of his life. That work is now superseded by Mr Bowen's fine edition, which includes a valuable critical and biographical introduction. He has done a thorough editorial job, checking the printed texts of the poems with Spencer's manuscripts at Reading, recording variants and adding explanatory notes. He has added to the text of the 1965 volume some twenty or so previously uncollected poems, from magazines or manuscripts, plus ...


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