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

Anthony Cronin

The number of people, even of professing poets, who take poetry seriously is small. A lot of people are concerned, or enthusiastic, or solemn or pretentious about poetry. Many of them take their own presumed poetic abilities seriously, or the position which, through poetry, they occupy or hope to occupy in the world of letters. Many others, critics and academics for the most part, look upon poetry with a sort of veneration because it is the goose that lays the golden eggs of self-esteem and self-aggrandisement. To take poetry seriously is another matter.

Taking it seriously does not mean that you are contemptuous of other human activities, studies or discipline, as young poets, deriving their position from that most influential of decades, the 1890s, were inclined to be in the 1940s, a decade from which David Wright was just recovering when I met him, as one is always, if one is any good, in process of recovering from what has just gone before. It does not necessarily mean that you hold religion, philosophy, politics or the lesser distractions of mankind in low esteem; and in fact you could not be long with David, even in the Mandrake club, before discovering that he was a devout man, a concerned citizen and a connoisseur of the game of cricket. Nor does it rule out enjoyment.

Far from it. The seriousness with which David took poetry had as its main constituent a keen and, considering everything, almost miraculously ...


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