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PN Review 276
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This review is taken from PN Review 27, Volume 9 Number 1, September - October 1982.

MIRRORING THE FLOWERS Prentiss Moore, The Garden in Winter and Other Poems (Texas)

Ideas and objects only arrive in Prentiss Moore's poems after passing through a thick filter of Art and Literature. A brief glance gleans Mallarmé, Baudelaire, Vermeer, della Robbia, Tu Fu, Fellini's Casanova, Hokusai's Wave, Magritte, Theocritus, Barthes, Char, Horace, Leopardi, Li Po, Monet, Debussy and Ravel. Clearly Moore has taste but it is not a very original taste, and there are far too many plaster busts of Athena, Baucis, Philemon and the like,-smelling of the school-room and entirely failing to breathe and blush with unexpected life. I have a good deal of sympathy for this kind of highly art-conscious writing (indeed his poem about the Fellini Casanova's encounter with his mother is a poem I very nearly wrote myself) and Moore is a neat enough versifier in a Creeleyish mode, but the book as a whole is afflicted with a disabling preciosity. Take the first verse of 'Light Of The World' (the title itself a clue to the pervading sentimentality of Moore's inspiration),-'no my love/wait wait to/see the rose'. Here everything-the absence of capitals or punctuation, the three syllable lines-contributes towards an impression of self-regarding 'exquisiteness' which the remaining six lines do nothing to dispel. We are back in the pale, twilit world of the minor Symbolists,-Moréas, not Mallarmé. At least one poem, 'She Has Waited', does little more than faintly reflect some of that great poet's favourite images. What is entirely lacking is the dialectical thought that lies beneath Mallarmé's surface of symbols. Moore's intellectuality is fake,-nothing you ...


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