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PN Review 276
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This review is taken from PN Review 17, Volume 7 Number 3, January - February 1981.

DARKNESS IN THE WINGS Dick Davis, Seeing the World (Anvil) £2.75
Peter Scupham, Summer Palaces (Oxford) £3.00
John Fuller, Lies and Secrets (Secker and Warburg) £3.50

I used to think that when the great polemical kite-flyer Yvor Winters called his essay on J. V. Cunningham 'The Plain Style Reborn' he had overdone it: after all, apart from the on Cunningham himself, there was only a desultory paragraph on Catherine Davis, whose style is to my ear far from plain. If Winters had lived to read Dick Davis, he could have produced better supporting evidence for his argument:

At last it is too dark to read.
I stare out on indifference,
A moonlit world that does not need
Our charity or deference.

And there my unfleshed face stares back,
Thin ghost through which far mountains show,
A palimpsest whose features lack
The constancy that lies below.

Below lie rock and scrub, the plain
Whence rodent eyes peer into mine-
An instant of inhuman pain
Deranges all I would define-

And I, and those I journey to,
Seem shadows without consequence,
A ghostly bustling to and fro
Through wastes of lunar permanence.

That complete poem, 'Night on the Long-Distance Coach', is among the most straightforward, though by no means the shortest, in Davis's second collection, Seeing the World. It's a poem at once in several recognisable modes: the journey-poem; the me-in-here/world-out-there poem; the revaluation-ofexperience-poem. It reminds me strongly of William Stafford's marvellous 'Travelling Through The Night', where a similar reassessment of ...

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