BOOKS: POETRY IN BRIEF

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Andrew Young: Selected Poems (Carcanet pounds 9.95)

Andrew Young (1885-1971) began his career as a Presbyterian minister and ended it as a Canon in the Church of England. He too is a fine Scottish poet but one who is often overlooked, since he played no part in MacDiarmid's grand renaissance schemes, and seems at first glance to hark back to Housman and the Georgians. "Feathers without a bird! / As though the bird had flown away / From its own feathers, fired / By strange desire for some immortal spray" ("Killed by a Hawk"). There are 17th-century notes here, together with touches of Frost and Thomas, but the best of his terse, craftsmanly poems are very much his own.

The book is edited by Edward Lowbury and Alison Young, the poet's daughter and son-in-law, who have also written a useful "critical biography", To Shirk No Idleness (University of Salzburg pounds 14.95, distributed by Drake International Services).

Life Sentence: Selected Poems by Nina Cassian, ed William Jay Smith (Anvil pounds 8.95). Take My Word For It by Nina Cassian (Anvil pounds 7.95)

Cassian is a leading Romanian poet who was forced into exile in New York during the last years of the Ceausescu regime when a satirical poem was found copied into one of her friends' diaries. The friend was tortured to death, and Cassian banned. Now she lives permanently in the States, writing in both Romanian and English. Life Sentence, translated by several hands, is a good introduction to her "one-woman orchestra". This unashamedly bangs the drum of the self, rather like Tsvetayeva, and it's hard to tell what they might be like in the original. There's less irony and self-deprecation than we're accustomed to, both here and in Take My Word For It, which includes poetry written in her new language. As with Brodsky's English-language verse, there will be arguments perhaps about whether this amounts to poetry or doggerel. "Read my book and get dizzy / on the fragrance of my flesh" ("Dedication").

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