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This article is taken from PN Review 22, Volume 8 Number 2, November - December 1981.

Where Poetry Ends Alan. J. Clark

Do not deny,
Do not deny, thing out of thing.
Do not deny in-the new vanity
The old, original dust.

From what grave, what past of flesh and bone
Dreaming, dreaming I lie
Under the fortunate curse,
Bewitched, alive, forgetting the first stuff. . .
Death does not give a moment to remember in

Lest, like a statue's too transmuted stone,
I grain by grain recall the original dust
And, looking down a stair of memory, keep saying:
This was never I. ('Incarnations')


A new element, something further, entered poetry with the work of Laura Riding, the American-story-writer, literary and moral critic, editor, as well as poet-whose successive collections of poems were first published in England (1926, 1930, 1933, 1938 [Cassell] ; selection 1970 [Faber]). The distinctive presence of such an element has been more or less readily acknowledged by most of her critics, while excitement about certain of its striking effects has led to widespread, albeit often covert, use of her work by poets during and ever since the 1920s. More seriously, her work has functioned for some poets, as well as for a number of private readers, as a kind of magnetic pole: steering by it can decisively alter bearings over the entire twentieth-century poetic map. Yet with but very few exceptions, commentators on her poems, whether critics or poets, have shown themselves at a remarkable loss when they ...


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