Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Gwyneth Lewis ‘Spiderings’ Ian Thomson ‘Fires were started: Tallinn, 1944’ Adrian May ‘Traditionalism and Tradition’ Judith Herzberg ‘Poems’ translated by Margitt Helbert Horatio Morpurgo ‘What is a Book?’
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Reader Survey
PN Review Substack

This poem is taken from PN Review 4, Volume 4 Number 4, July - September 1978.

Ars Poetica I.A. Richards

... In thy book were all my members written, which day by day were fashioned: when as yet there were none of them.
Psalm 139: 15-16

Conceive your embryo at its earliest age,
 The germ just entered the awaiting egg.
  What then were you? And how has what ensued
   Guided you all your life in all you've done?
Before your birth, seriatim, page by page,
 That had to hold for this to be the peg
  Then placed; all hung on prior aptitude
   Through the long climb to what was then begun.

Once born, your new-won comforts gone, you had
 To learn; harder, more hazardous, and yet the same:
  Each step prepares or it precludes the next.
The grimmest lesson, this, on good and bad,
 The founding rule of the whole fearsome game,
  'Unto him that hath shall be given . . .'* So reads the text.

So poems grow. The lonely, waiting phrase

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image