PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Monthly Carcanet Books
Gratis Ad 1
Next Issue Helene Cixous We Defy Augury Carola Luther From ‘Letter to Rasool’ Sarah Rothenberg Ashberyana Jena Schmidt The Many-Faced Lola Ridge Helen Tookey Almost Drowning

This review is taken from PN Review 18, Volume 7 Number 4, March - April 1981.

STILLNESS INTO HISTORY Tom Paulin, The Strange Museum (Faber) £3.50
Seamus Heaney and Noel Connor, Gravities (Charlotte Press) £1.75
Michael Longley, The Echo Gate (Secker) £3.00
Andrew Waterman, Over the Wall (Carcanet) £2.95

In his second book, The Strange Museum, Tom Paulin finds a sustaining abstract metaphor for the condition, or plight, of the contemporary Irish writer caught, in the very language he uses, in a web of crossed loyalties, afflicted with the responsibility of extreme self-consciousness about his own inheritance and 'tradition'. Paulin imagines himself, in an image that carries obvious Marxian reverberations, held static in the 'long lulled pause/Before history happens,/when the spirit hungers for form.' In a poem called 'A Partial State', Ireland before the present troubles is defined as 'Stillness, without history'. And Trotsky, a central presence in the book, is seen at the Finland station 'Plunging from stillness into history' and is imagined uttering a self-definition in the long, mysterious, effortlessly inventive poem, 'The Other Voice': 'I am history now./I carry time in my mind./As sharp as an axe.' Mandelstam in the same poem is an intricately opposed figure who leaves a buttery in the Kremlin 'Because I could never stay/In the same room as Trotsky' and celebrates his own hermetic withdrawal: 'In the great dome of art . . ./I am free of history'. 'Stillness' and 'history'; poetry ('What does a poem serve?/Only the pure circle of itself') and political fact; the tender absenteeism of 'formal elegance', of 'a tennis suburb', of 'the first freshness' of sex, of 'a graceful love' discovered in an alien Indian culture, confronting 'Bricks of a hundred linen mills,/The shadows of black tabernacles' and the vindictive god who 'scatters/bodies everywhere and ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image