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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 ...


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