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

Anne Tibble

David Wright's Deafness, A Personal Account, I can compare with nobody else's autobiography-unless it is J.C. Powys's. For me it is a great book. It has an elusive element in common with the unfinished, fragmented autobiography of one of David Wright's favourite poets, John Clare. Then, in 1976 I bought David Wright's A View of the North, written after his removal to Cumbria. Among these regional poems is one on a geology expedition when they found to their astonishment fossil coral near the top of the Pennines. But for a reader who has had friendships with gipsies since childhood, the poem "Horse Fair" could not but ring the strongest chime.

I have to confess that Deafness, A View of the North and David Wright's last book To the Gods the Shades: New and Collected Poems are what I am basing this deep appreciation on: "I cannot tell whether deafness has damaged my poetry," he writes in that Personal Account. Well, it hasn't, this reader categorically replies. It has simply, yet not simply, directed him to the "never tedious argument" of the eye. His own mind and spirit have done the rest. Since I believe artists of all kinds should at least be discerned as men and women, and their linked craft judged as art, I know I am taking a debateable stand. Ah, but To the Gods the Shades so amply coincides with, interprets and enhances, the autobiography Deafness that I shall not retract. As any other ...


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