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This article is taken from PN Review 15, Volume 7 Number 1, September - October 1980.

On An Unpublished Poem by Adrian Stokes Peter Robinson


Gorging on the pointed brick
-Spaces fattening plenteous time-
Seasons picnic stretched full length
Rains are spreading capes

The years are crumbling vivid stone
Revetment with their feet
Why roseate? The Bank dome hoards
All poaching thrusting fingers

The figures of the balance show
Rich deposits, swollen greed;
While the hours are nosing paint
Silently as fungi feed

One of the rewards that an artist earns with age is the indulgence to refer ever more laconically to the features of his previous work. Adrian Stokes began to write poetry in 1968 and continued up to his death. Thus his whole poetic output-in the order of one hundred and sixty poems-follows the publications of Reflections on the Nude, his last volume of aesthetic writings (excluding the collected occasional papers A Game That Must Be Lost). If the development of his prose style can be most broadly generalized as one from impressionistic evocation to aphoristic suggestiveness this process continues in the poems, where his writings are compressed and reformulated in sometimes extremely economical form.

This concentration is achieved by an intensified attention to the suggestiveness of language as a medium for making art-rather than for theorizing about it. But Stokes came to this attention via his theories. In Reflections on the Nude he relates his familiar dualism, here called a dualism of actuality and fantasy-the thing or ...

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