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This article is taken from PN Review 11, Volume 6 Number 3, January - February 1980.

The Poetry of George Barker Richard Poole

THE POETRY of George Barker presents something of a critical challenge at the present time, for it undoubtedly contravenes a number of current allegiances and practices. That it is apparently out of fashion is no cause for concern, however: nothing wears so badly as the fashionable, just as nothing is outdated so speedily as news. Mr Barker remains committed to the taking of risks when many modern poets may be likened to snails who obtrude their perceptual horns only in twilight in the fear they may be blinded by the light of the sun. He is a rhetorician when the values of a plain style and diction are frequently recommended. He is a Romantic individualist in a time of increasing collectivism. But, in his refusal to subscribe to the doctrines of any party or clique, he has to my way of thinking become one of the few contemporary English poets whose achievement demands that his fellows measure themselves against him, rather than vice versa.

His work at large offers a reader one of the keenest of pleasures-that of seeing before him the gradual stylistic evolution of the artist which images the ethical development of the man. His poetry comprises his moral autobiography. Even where it wears a mask of impersonality it is instinct with experience of life. That alone, of course, wouldn't make Mr Barker a considerable poet: what does is his possession of the further and crucial capacities-of being capable of reflecting deeply upon experience, and ...


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