Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
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 Gwyneth Lewis ‘Spiderings’ Ian Thomson ‘Fires were started: Tallinn, 1944’ Adrian May ‘Traditionalism and Tradition’ Judith Herzberg ‘Poems’ translated by Margitt Helbert Horatio Morpurgo ‘What is a Book?’
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Reader Survey
PN Review Substack

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

A SEARCHING DISCIPLINE Anthony Hecht: The Venetian Vespers (OUP 1979) £3.95 pb.

The new volume of poems by Anthony Hecht is recognizably from the same stable as that which has given us A Summoning of Stones (1955), The Hard Hours (1967), and Millions of Strange Shadows (1977). Only the fact that we have not had to wait at least a decade is likely to occasion some surprise, for it had not seemed probable that the publishing habits of almost sixty years - Hecht's first book appeared when he was thirty - would alter greatly as he grew older. It is now presumably too late for there to be, in this country, a reaction towards Hecht that would ensure him the attention he deserves, so that to register a slight disappointment with the new volume, specifically by setting it against the successes in those that precede it, had better, I suppose, be construed as part of a more general disappointment that he has not found more apologists here.

The distinguishing feature of A Summoning of Stones was the way in which Hecht, to quote from his 'Double sonnet', 'made numbers human' without abandoning 'a grace won by the way from all/ Striving in what is difficult'. Hecht's commitment to what another poem of this collection ('As Plato said') calls 'nature's daily masterpiece' was throughout informed by a bleak awareness that, although he was in perpetual quest for an Eden, and distressed at how far mankind had fallen,

The place is neither Paradise nor Hell
But ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image