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This article is taken from PN Review 14, Volume 6 Number 6, July - August 1980.

David Wright C.H. Sisson

IT WAS in one of those shops which used to make the Charing Cross Road more interesting than it now is-Better Books-that I made my first acquaintance with the work of David Wright. There were two manifestations. The first was a small, well-produced volume which must have waited a long time for a purchaser, for it was dated 1954 and marked down from 6s. to 1/6d. This was Moral Stories. On opening this little book, with no more hope than one usually has on such occasions, I was surprised by a certain sober eloquence, of a kind that was new to me:


Glaucus, a god of the sea, was once a man
Inhabiting Anthedon in the provinces;
Kept body and soul together netting fish,
Till one unlucky day on a Boeotian
And desert beach he laid, dying by inches,
Nine mackerel, constituting his day's catch.


That is an accomplished piece of writing; a stanza moving to its destination with remarkable sureness. There is no raising of the voice, and a perfect conversational tone is maintained. Yet the movement is formal, as if some power behind the scenes were directing events. And so a story unfolds. The nine fish placed before us on the shore are heavy with a significance beyond themselves. This is exactly the point we need to be at, at the end of the stanza, for in the next the development of the story ...


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