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This review is taken from PN Review 138, Volume 27 Number 4, March - April 2001.

PROSPECT OF A POET EDWARD LOWBURY and ALISON YOUNG, To Shirk No Idleness: A Critical Biography of the Poet Andrew Young (University of Salzburg Press) £14.95

Andrew Young has never really been fashionable, nor has he ever been totally out of fashion as anthologists have kept the best of his shorter poems in print. He is neither strictly a Georgian nor, despite his enthusiasm for The Waste Land, did he embrace Modernism. If he is classified in any way, it is as an English nature poet, which again is not quite right as some of his most interesting work is contained in his verse plays, once compared favourably with those of Eliot, and in the longer poems such as 'Into Hades'.

To Shirk No Idleness is an informative and well written biography by Young's sonin- law and daughter. The Lowburys have had access to Young's private papers including his uncompleted and unpublished autobiography My Life; but the important aspect throughout is personal reminiscence of this complex and apparently dour Scottish minister and poet. The biography makes a fitting companion to the recently published Selected Poems (Carcanet) edited by the same authors.

Young was born in 1885, the fourth child of a deeply religious father, inheriting many of the uncompromising aspects of his father's grim Presbyterianism. His father had the Scottish respect for learning, consequently Young received a liberal education at the University of Edinburgh; the Classics remained influential throughout his life. He graduated in 1907 and before going on to theological training he spent the summers of 1907 and 1908 in Paris, lodging in the Latin Quarter.

The authors ...


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