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This review is taken from PN Review 20, Volume 7 Number 6, July - August 1981.

IMAGINARY CONVERSATION June Badeni, The Slender Tree, a life of Alice Meynell (Tabb House, Padstow) £10.95
Virginia M. Kouidis, Mina Loy, American Modernist Poet (Louisiana University Press) np

Were Walter Savage Landor to bring together in the Elysian Fields the spirits of these two distinctive minor poets, both in their lives assertively feminine and feminist, Alice Meynell (1847-1922), a traditionalist, and Mina Loy (1882-1966), a modernist, he would overhear excellent copy for one of his imaginary conversations. In their practice as poets they have little in common except the English language. Meynell works within nineteenth-century conventions of prosody while emulating the spareness of diction, the nuances of emphasis, of controlled thought and feeling that she found in the seventeenth-century minor poets that she so much admired. In the last year of her life, she published in the London Mercury a poem, 'The Laws of Verse':


       Dear laws, come to my breast!
Take all my frame, and make your close arms meet
Around me; and so ruled, so warmed, so pressed,
I breathe aware; I feel my wild heart beat.

       Dear laws, be wings to me!
The feather merely floats. O be it heard
Through weight of life-the skylark's gravity-
That I am not a feather, but a bird.


Without these controls, and in her personal life, without the sanctioned codes of the Roman Catholic Church to which in adulthood she was admitted, as were her mother and her husband, Wilfrid, there would be no assurance, no direction. She would have acknowledged the artistic discipline of these lines from Mina Loy's Human ...


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