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

David Wright in Conversation with Jonathan Barker Jonathan Barker

(The interviewer speaks first) You wrote "A Funeral Oration" at the age of 30. Why at this age?

Because I grew up just about that time. I had a long delayed adolescence. I only discovered myself about that time. I can remember, quite clearly, waking up one May morning very early, and walking up Marchmont Street in a state of euphoria. Something to do with having at last managed to master my own infirmity. I wrote about that too in my poem called "A Thanksgiving" about 1955. But the Funeral Oration-that would be 1950.

Was it as though "A Funeral Oration" was a farewell to one self, and the beginning of another?

Yes, I think that's probably true. I think an old self died-about 1947 anyway. Up to about 1947 I was writing very romantic verse, which had not got much to do with reality; a sort of playing with words. From 1947 I got to know your namesake George Barker very well and it was his conversation that taught me a great deal. Not only about poetry, but about myself too. And I think as a result of my contact with him I grew up-burst out of the chrysalis, so to speak.

This will have been in Soho?

No, not really. I met George in Soho, yes. But I got to know him when I went down to Cornwall in 1948. We were all living in cottages near ...


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