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This review is taken from PN Review 19, Volume 7 Number 5, May - June 1981.

TOMORROW'S LIFE Geoffrey Grigson, History of Him (Secker) £3.95

Reviewing The Winding Stair in an early issue of New Verse, Geoffrey Grigson described Yeats as 'one of those rare creators undried and unwrinkled by time': a phrase which now, nearly half a century later, seems justly applicable to Grigson himself. There is no sign here of any failure of creative energy: indeed it is by reference to notions of energy, fluency, and determined opposition to inertia, that one comes closest to defining the essence of History of Him, this characteristically varied collection of poems. 'Suppose', writes Grigson in 'No Explanation',


Suppose we cease worrying the intricate
Nonsense of our fate. Suppose we relapse,
That is to be sick and low, that is to be
In the dull way demented.


Poem after poem reveals a mind vigorously resisting any such lapse, a mind reaching out in disciplined wonder towards the heterogeneous assemblage of objects and events which together constitute 'ordinary' life-Grigson uses the adjective in no disparaging sense-and expressing itself in forms which reflect and emphasise that movement. His sight may be, as one of these poems laconically suggests, 'not so good'; but how sharply, still, he seems to register and respond to his surroundings, noting the tension between the perfume of syringa and a peony's fallen petals, seeking harmony with the constituent elements of a fine July morning, or finding in the play of light on a spider's threads an affirmative vibrancy which qualifies, without obscuring, the ...


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