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This review is taken from PN Review 215, Volume 40 Number 3, January - February 2014.

Addressing the Gods stanley moss, No Tear is Commonplace (Carcanet) £9.95

All I know of Stanley Moss I learned from this magazine. I read as they appeared more than fifty poems he has contributed since 1988, and read yet again recently (I turn to it from time to time for the pleasure it gives) the autobiographical essay 'Diary of a Satyr' (PNR 186), in which the life, romantic and adventurous enough, goodness knows, told penny-plain, is fascinatingly spangled with myth. I hope that part of the story describing his friendship with Dylan Thomas will be retold and expanded when the centenary of Thomas's birth is celebrated next year, as counterbalance to conflicting accounts of the death in New York, which will be repeated again and again.
 
There is much else in the essay to recommend it as a useful preliminary to reading No Tear is Commonplace. It is the book of an octogenarian poet too fast approaching his nineties, celebrating life in its rich diversity, and keeping a weather eye on death. In his worst moments he might admit 'everything that lives has death in it' ('Drinking Song'), but like Robert Frost he knows 'Earth's the right place for love', and would cry 'Amen' to his friend Dylan's urging not to 'go gentle into that good night'. Stanley Moss is an atheistical Jew who, as a dealer in Old Master paintings, is familiar with the tenets and symbols of Christianity and, out of his lively interest in humanity and society, has more than a passing acquaintance with other cultures and religions. He questions and rails at ...


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