PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
OUP PNR 246 Banner
Monthly Carcanet Books
Next Issue Alex Wong embarks on Ausonius's Moselle Christine Blackwell recalls Jonas Mekas Lives of Graves, Trilling and Curnow visited New poems by Lisa Kelly and Jodie Hollander Andy Croft on the 'poetry industry'

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

A RISKY BUSINESS What is to be Given by Delmore Schwartz, Carcanet, £2.90.

The risks awaiting readers of this volume are considerable, since, as Douglas Dunn's introduction partly shows, Schwartz became his admirers in perhaps the worst possible sense. What blinkers can we find to keep our eyes directly on the poems, and avoid the disturbing forms of Bellow and Berryman which lumber along just over our shoulders? They, after all, are the ones with the authority and the success, while Schwartz from their view-point more and more takes on the guise of reputed crank, genius, and doomed bard, all the veneer of a Romantic giant. The appearance of these poems might even seem to add an extra validity to the fictionalization of Schwartz, the Great Gift, by his friends; some might read him as they feel obliged to peruse Holinshed or Plutarch. Poetry, fortunately, has just about managed to separate itself from biography, but the first risk to be taken with these poems is that of discovering what matters to us more, poems or gossip, and which adds sauce to which.

Schwartz too takes risks; 'Prothalamion', one of the longest poems in the collection, shows how he can over-reach himself, and ranges from tightly controlled statement to exclamatory evocation. Like many of his poems, it has a partly dramatic form, as if he is making speeches to himself, and often borders on pastiche of other writers, as if he is making speeches to them:


But this is fantastic and pitiful,
And no one comes, ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image