POETRY IN BRIEF

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The Independent Culture
2 George Seferis: Complete Poems, Anvil Press pounds 9.95. "Memory hurts wherever you touch it". This marvellous book offers the complete works of "the greatest Greek poet of the century" (he won the Nobel prize in 1963) in the classic translations of Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Seferis combines "immemorial" qualities with the dry modernist tones, speaking volumes, of Eliot and Valery. "On every record/someone living plays /With someone dead./Take the steel needle and separate them/if you can". Plangent, sturdy, these are poems to live with and learn by.

2 Abyssophone by Peter Redgrove, Stride pounds 6.95. The title is glossed as "any instrument for tuning into a wider and deeper reality than is ordinarily accepted" - shells, sand-dunes, "psychoactive" perfumes or "any other mesmeric enabling device". Redgrove's polymorphous animism is wildly variable in quality, sometimes stunning, sometimes just a device for churning out not very mesmeric connections between disparate things and events. Here the familiar lexicon - cats, electricity, thunderstorms, waterfalls, dreams, spiders, women, perfumes - is a "thick sweet sauce" he can mix at will and spread as balm for the psyche, rather like Yeats and his mythopoeic draught of bitters. All enlivened, as ever, by the "taste of salt cosmos/And pure essence of mermaid, very fishy".

William Scammell

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