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This article is taken from PN Review 5, Volume 5 Number 1, October - December 1978.

Waterman's Progress John Mole

'JOURNEY', WITH which Andrew Waterman's second collection opens, stands in direct relation to 'A Summer Frame' which began his first, and taken together the two poems establish the tone of his work; that of a poet who travels light, but packs a weighty conscience. They are also an indication of his method-which amounts to a kind of relentless contemplation, meditations amongst the dramatized clutter of his own life, and a travelling along his 'individual way' with temporary halts and truces to compose 'a frame to hold all that through accident/survives . . .'.

This procedure often has the feel and furnishing of an incognito return journey, reminiscent of Dylan Thomas's search for his lost innocence, but Waterman is a compulsive loner with little inclination to chat up the past he is haunted by and obviously scornful of false notations. 'One can never go back' he announces, observing the Suburban Eden to which, at points throughout his work, he nevertheless does go back, and his position is permanently outside the railings. He finds himself 'hankering after the fictive Garden' (Poetry Book Society Bulletin, Christmas 1974), the 'delectable' Good Place, and with this in view he makes poems which avoid sentimentality because they embrace the larger theme of a 'life-pilgrimage' and do not indulge 'the boy who would live there alone for ever'. Waterman's theme is loss, mistake, misunderstanding, `the dark/seepage of everything thirty summers' greenness/has never brought to pass' but this is also the point from which he ...


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