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This review is taken from PN Review 21, Volume 8 Number 1, September - October 1981.

THE SIMPLE AND THE ROCOCO Vicki Feaver, Close Relatives (Secker & Warburg) £4.50
Carol Rumens, Unplayed Music (Secker & Warburg) £4.50
David Sweetman, Looking into the Deep End (Faber) £3.00
Peter Porter, English Subtitles (Oxford) £3.50

Vicki Feaver's poems have been familiar to magazine and TLS readers for some time, and now here they are collected together in all their womanly frailty, demanding to be thought of as more than mere Encounter space-fillers. And how curious it is, that poems which, coming at the end of those awful articles (yet again!) on the Third Reich or NATO, could seem so very acceptable as light relief, as a flight into the essential weakness and defencelessness of the everyday, should now, with no assistance from contrast, seem so limp, so regrettably lifeless.

Vicki Feaver's is a talent carefully fixed on the everyday. The focus lends stress, or depth, on rare occasions; mostly, though, it stifles the very real, truly-felt impulses that lie beneath the poems. The opening poem in the book, 'Slow Reader', is symptomatic: the child's gradual progression through time into a constriction of innocent freedoms is clearly deeply felt by Mrs Feaver, but she has smothered her perception in a series of unoriginal images (a colt shying from the bit it must take, etc.) so that the insight which is undeniably at work in the poem is squashed. We turn the page to 'Mr Sparke'. It is a poem of mellow sadness, suffused with the quiet regret which quickly emerges as the dominant tone of the book; there is nothing in it to lift the eyebrow, to rouse attention. In the next poem, a six-piece second-honeymoon sequence called 'Pigeons and Cherubs', we discover ...

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