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This review is taken from PN Review 208, Volume 39 Number 2, November - December 2012.

Transfixed by Simplicities robert nye, An Almost Dancer: Poems 2005-2011 (Greenwich Exchange) pb £7.99, hb £9.99

Robert Nye's first poetry publication was Juvenilia 1 (1961). Half a century later, the voice is purer, simpler, sweeter - but unmistakably the same. Nye has never been prolific. This latest collection numbers only 33 poems, written over a seven-year period. But then this poet's complete works are modest. In a couple of hours a careful reader could peruse the lot. Nye's poetic development has mainly consisted of cutting back, paring and simplifying.

Perhaps this is why many of the poems in An Almost Dancer are almost naked in their plainness. 'Forgive me if it's not original' the poet pleads in 'An Apology for Rhetoric' - but his plea is slant, as is much of the wry half-humour underlying this patently serious book. And though these are new poems, the themes and motifs are familiar. 'Instructions for a Burial' recalls the 'five-barred gate / With a six-barred shadow' first mentioned in 'The Vixen' (Juvenilia 2, 1963); the title poem nods to 'A Time to Dance' in Juvenilia 1; 'Lines to the Queen of Elsewhere' recalls 'Margaretting', where the poet has 'never been but almost might be' in The Rain and the Glass (2004); and 'Runes', an autobiographical ballad, could easily be a sequel to 'The Cure' in the same 2004 volume.

Some poems evoke vivid memories, each of which offers a meaning greater than itself. Others are so short as to be fragmentary. For example, 'A Matador Past His Prime' invites us to 'Honour the ...


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