Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Hal Coase 'Ochre Pitch' Gregory Woods 'On Queerness' Kirsty Gunn 'On Risk! Carl Phillips' Galina Rymbu 'What I Haven't Written' translated by Sasha Dugdale Gabriel Josipovici 'No More Stories' Valerie Duff-Strautmann 'Anne Carson's Wrong Norma'
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review 276
PN Review Substack

This review is taken from PN Review 136, Volume 27 Number 2, November - December 2000.

Edited by Grevel Lindop
Neil Curry
KATHLEEN RAINE, Collected Poems (Golgonooza Press) £25

Kathleen Raine is a poet and a scholar, one of the most distinguished Blake scholars of our time, and yet it seems to me that she was self-evidently wrong when she wrote in the first issue of the journal Temenos that 'William Blake is the only English poet whose central theme is the confrontation of science and imagination.'1 I say 'self-evidently' as there is another poet, one whom she appears at that moment to have overlooked, and that is herself. Faced with the range and depth of her learning, we have to remind ourselves that when she first went up to Girton it was not English Literature that she read. As she explained in The Land Unknown, the second volume of her autobiography, she 'felt no need to be "taught" literature. One had only to read the books after all.'2 No, her first degree was in Natural Sciences, and this explains, to some extent, the Hopkins-like precision of her observation. She writes as someone who has been trained to see what is there, not what she expects to be there. In an early poem Air she writes:

 But from a high fell on a summer day
Sometimes below you may see the air like water,
The dazzle of the light upon its waves
That flow unbroken to the end of the world.

I have been living in Cumbria for thirty years and must have seen this effect from the fell ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image