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This review is taken from PN Review 115, Volume 23 Number 5, May - June 1997.

THE GROSSETESTE CONNECTION JOHN RILEY, Selected Poems ed. Michael Grant (Carcanet) £12.95
SÉAN RAFFERTY, Collected Poems ed. Nicholas Johnson (Carcanet) £12.95
SÉAN RAFFERTY, Peacocks. Full Stop (Poetical Histories) £3.50
MICHAEL HASLAM, A Whole Bauble (Carcanet) £14.95

'Suddenly the press had a poet, the fun had a purpose,' wrote Tim Longville in his catalogue note for Ancient and Modern, published in 1967 by Grosseteste Press. John Riley and Longville set up the press together with Gordon Jackson in 1966, and from 1968 until Riley's murder in 1978 co-edited Grosseteste Review, among the most significant magazines of the time; they also co-authored several small collections, and two volumes of superb translations from Holderlin. In 1980, Longville published The Collected Works, including much of Riley's prose and his solo translations from Mandelstam and others, but omitting all the collaborations (the book runs to 500 pages as it is). Michael Grant has made an excellent selection of about half of the poems in The Collected Works, omitting the earlier work in Ancient and Modern, but otherwise reprinting Riley's collections virtually entire, together with some pieces uncollected at his death. The title poem is worth quoting in full:
 

Away from the house the sun falls
  slanting,
And trees almost in leaf in yesterday's
  sun
Put on today an elegant new shape,
A complex, streamlined growth. Did
  you ever see

The maidenhair (some few survive), a
  pre-
Historic tree? Limpid leaf, irregularity,
A touching intent to grow come what
  may
With perhaps insufficient means: a
  pleasure

To look on. As who shall see in winter
  leisure
Compassionate history ...


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