Welcome To Talking Verse

This blog is dedicated to discussion on poetry.

Poetry, on the European side of the Atlantic, has hardly progressed since the early 20th Century. Whilst in the USA poetry continues to evolve and present itself afresh.

Part of the reason for this is that the issue of poetry has been debated widely in the USA whereas in Britain, for example, you will be hard pressed to find anything that challenges the status quo of poetry.

There have been a few attempts: the Liverpool Beat poets made an short-lived impact during the early 1960s, but they could only offer a poor imitation of a style from the USA.

A handful of poets in the 20th century did make an impact. Basil Bunting and Tom Leonard shook up the established schools. But compared to the US the impact is small. Whilst other art forms have managed to progress over the years, poetry has stood still. Only the narrative has altered to keep abreast of the times.

Many people look to poetry to ‘tell’ them something; as if poetry were some form of journalism or propaganda. The laureateship of Carol Anne Duffy has only reinforced that view. But it is not simply a case of blaming the poets. Duffy is only responding to a demand that arises out of a society that pushes art for other ends, rather than simply art for the sake of it.

Today there is a wide awareness of poetry, the internet is weighted down with poetry sites that offer varying degrees of quality. Poetry is as valid as any other art form but only as long as it operates as an art form. Poets should not be seen as harbingers and the audience should look for meaning rather than rely on the poet or critic to provide answers.


This blog welcomes essays and book reviews about poetry. Please do not submit any poetry. If you wish to use a blog to submit poetry then I would recommend The Poets' Graves Workshop.

All submissions will be read and editing suggestions may be put to the author before being posted. Rejection by the author of any suggestion does not preclude it from being posted on the site.

Talking Verse follows no particular school of thought and has no other remit apart from the widest debate on matters of poetry.

Please submit here

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Don't You Wonder Sometimes About Sound And Vision?*

Two forms of poetry that succinctly display some of the most important elements of poetry are the Limerick and the haiku.

For many of us the first encounter with poetic s will be the Limerick and particularly those of Edward Lear.  The Limerick is a five-line poem (sometimes the third and fourth line appear as one to make a quatrain) whose rhyme scheme is AABBA.  The last word of the first line is also the last word of the final line.

The rhyme scheme (as well as the brevity of each poem) means that the Limerick is one that is easy to remember.  But the rhyme scheme also creates a sense of the comical or the absurd and though Lear intended these works for children we should not overlook how he exploited the ‘music’ of poetry to great effect, which meant that the primary experience of the Limerick is not the ‘meaning, but the sound the poem makes.  The playfulness of the language in the Limerick also helps to make it acceptable to the inexperience of childhood.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Style over Substance: errare humanum est, perseverare autem diabolicum

Essay by Phil Thornton  

When do you think the following piece of literary criticism was written?

You ask why it is that at certain periods a corrupt literary style has come into being; and how it is that a gifted mind develops a leaning towards some fault or other  (resulting in the prevalence at one period of a bombastic form of exposition, at another of an effeminate form, fashioned after the manner of songs); and why it is that at one time approval is won by extravagant conceits and at another by sentences of an abrupt, allusive character that convey more to the intelligence than to the ear; and why there have been era in which metaphors have been shamelessly exploited.

Friday, 22 April 2011

The Common Breath: a poetic tradition*

Essay by Tom Leonard
The politics of space on the page is a politics of democracy, of transference from world of text as “the” to that of reader-subject as “this”. It is the universalisation of the author-reader experience away from the world of passing-the-parcel to those fit to open the parcels of cultural referents of supposedly universal value (which opening of parcels has been the industry of literary-academic exegesis’s this past hundred years); towards the structuring of a system of common breath, integer of the universal human.

The basis of poetry is line, the basis of prose, paragraph—most of the time. Three types of basic poetry line: as unit of metre, as unit of meaning, as unit of articulation. The politics of space belongs to the last.

Monday, 4 April 2011

The War Poets: The Sound of distant drums

Essay by Denis Joe

Recently a Birkenhead (Wirral, UK) society opened a centre devoted to Wilfred Owen.  I lived in Birkenhead for seven years and was always bemused by the fact that the town saw little merit in celebrating this most famous of poets.  There is a stain glass window in the Museum and there is a small thoroughfare named after him, but that was all. 

The new centre is modest in the extreme, it looks like just another shop and it is hard to imagine it as a ‘tourist spot’ as it has very little of interest in it.

Though I have little time for themes in poetry, preferring that the poem stands on its structure rather than on its literal meaning, with the War Poets it is nigh on impossible to mention them without , primarily, looking at the historical events in which they composed their poetical works[i].  Whilst personal experience may drive the poet in their work it is only as material; manipulated into a form for the audience to make sense of and even relate to their own lives.  It is not the role of the poet to become an agitator for some cause or other and whilst Owen, Sassoon, Brookes, Graves, etc.  called on their experience of fighting in World War 1, to inform their work it is laziness to see the work as comments on warfare.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Phantom of the Apple by John Kay

Review by Phil Thornton

This collection of American poet, John Kay’s work begins with a quote from Camus’ s ‘Myth of Sisyphus’;

“The worm is in man’s heart”

An apt start for a collection of poems pre-occupied with the author’s own heart related health issues. Like many American poets, Kay gets straight to the er, heart of the issue, forsaking the structural showboating and vainglorious stylizations of many European writers in a bid to connect via emotion. Not that Kay doesn’t have a style, but that style serves the poem and not the author.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Doing The Standing Still

Essay by Denis Joe
I remember going to a poetry reading at the Bluecoat, in Liverpool, a few years back.  Gordon D Henry was reading and there was a Q&A session after.  The first question asked from the audience left me gobsmacked at the arrogance of the questioner, who wanted to know how she could best use her poetry to put across her anti-racism.

It was not simply her self-delusion of grandeur that rankled me but also that question implied that poetry was no better than journalism or propaganda.  She seemed to suggest that there is nothing to poetry except the banality of its literal  meaning.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

 Essay by Matthew Denvir

It is not uncommon for a poet’s work to be thematically concerned with death, and this is certainly the case with William Butler Yeats.  “The Wild Swans at Coole,” for example, is a melancholic poem that ponders the inevitable, unchangeable passage of time.  The speaker tells of the beauty of seeing the swans each autumn but laments the time when he will “awake some day / To find they have flown away” (132).  The poem establishes early on that the speaker is growing older, and therefore the idea that the seemingly eternal swans will someday be gone speaks to the fact that his soul will also have to fly away.  He will someday have to die.

Though this poem is a typical example of a poet’s depiction of death (elegantly sorrowful and with a sense of loss), it doesn’t represent Yeats’ final word on the subject.  His argument about death, about what it means to die, becomes more complex when his war poems are taken into account.  And it is with these poems that the reader sees an attitude about death that is strikingly different from that represented by his other work.  Simply put, in the universe created by Yeats’ poetry, death in war is a far different philosophical and existential experience than death by any other means.

The Poetics of Intolerance

Opinion Piece by Denis Joe

The news about the call to shut up US shock-jock, Glenn Beck, over the past month got me thinking about the ranters on this side of the Pond.

I recall it was one of the final Dead Good Poets Society open-mic nights at the Everyman, in Liverpool,  before it closed, temporarily, for refurbishment.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Jim Morrison Was Not A Poet

Essay by Denis Joe

Take Away The Noise And There Is Little To Say

I recently attended a debate on the relevance of poetry today.  Aside from the fact that poetry, like all art, moves with the times and thus is relevant, it was the way in which the speakers talked about what makes poetry relevant that made me feel uneasy.

It seems that poetry can never be justified on the basis of its craft.  There always has to be some referral to other activities particularly song writing.  It was the manner in which one of the speakers talked about Morrison, Dylan and even Morrissey as ‘poets’, and the way that there seemed to be an acceptance of this, as if it were a fact, that, initially, annoyed me, then got me thinking about why this is done.  It seems that there is some embarrassment about poetry as a unique art form.  The usual argument about the ‘relevance’ of poetry starts off by saying that the art is viewed as elitist and then goes on to say that ‘poetry is all around us’.  Which rather sounds like an elitist statement: suggesting we are too stupid to see it.

The truth is poetry is not ‘all around us’.  Advertisers, campaigners of some issue or other and even MP soundbites, may well utilise aspects of poetry, but few would see it as anything more than a jingle; a slogan or a vacuous statement.  But none of these things can be called poetry, because they are created for a different function.

Like all other art forms, poetry has its own rules and tools that allow us to recognise it as something unique in itself.  These rules alter over time because the material that is used to give poetry its form- language- is in constant flux.  Also the manner in which that language is conveyed changes, creating new ways of expression.  For example mobile-phone texting  and Twittering, do away with, mainly, vowels.  All this, and more, contribute to what Peter Levi described as The Noise Made By Poems[i] . 

Musical Language

It is the noise that poetry creates that makes it unique.  The major difference between poetry and prose is that prose uses the language to inform: words are used for their meaning in order to explain what is happening within a narrative[ii].  In poetry words are, primarily,  used for the sound that they make rather than their meaning.  In many respects poetry is more akin to music than it is to ‘creative writing’.  Poets use words in the same way that the composer uses musical notes, to create - what Varèse  called - ‘organised sound’.  Poetry is, itself , organised sound.  Using the tones and pitches of the language to create soundscapes. The reader/listener is initially struck by the melody that a poem produces. This can be heard most discernibly in children’s rhymes; above all, the ‘nonsense’ limericks of Edward Lear.  The love of the sound, rather than meaning of the word, in Lear’s poetry is what makes them so valuable in understanding how a poem works[iii] and how the sound of a word (like the sound of a musical chord) elicits an emotional response.  The humour of Lear’s limericks lay, not in their meaning, but in the way that the words create a feeling in the listener/reader.  The nearest equivalent in music is perhaps the oboe pieces, that represent the duck in Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf or the xylophone in Danse Macabre by Saint-Saëns.  Both suggest an awareness, by the composers, of the humourist response that these portions of their work will elicit in the listener.

As with music, the melody of a poem will either attract or repel the reader.  If a reader comes across a poem that they cannot find melody in, they will, no doubt, reject it.  Even hearing a poem being read out to us, may well colour our response.  As with singing, different readers will provide a different interpretation (not a literal interpretation, though this may be the case as well) of the same poem.  The tonality of a voice and regional accent all play a part in how we hear a poem and, thus, how it impacts on us emotionally.  And to pull another comparison with music composers, it was often said that Stravinsky was not the best interpreter of his own compositions.  Anyone who has heard a recording of TS Eliot reading his own work may well wonder how something that reads as beautifully as The Love Song Of J Alfred Prufrock can sound as annoying as a wasp trapped under a Styrofoam cup.  The BBC English accent of old, is not a voice that lends itself to poetry (or anything else that requires an emotional input greater than that of a Q Tip).

The Minstrel In The Gallery

Situations have ended sad
Relationships have all been bad
Mine’ve been like Verlaine’s and Rimbaud
                                [You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go Bob Dylan]

 . . .wishful thinking, there.

But whatever we may think, millions view Bob Dylan as a poet, even though a song lyric bears not even the remotest resemblance to a poem.  Poems, as we have noted, contain their own music and it is this that creates the initial impact of a poem.  Song lyrics either have the support of a musical accompaniment or are used to support a tune.

But there is also another use for lyrics and it is the same use that the strolling minstrels of medieval Europe had when relating tales and news to the illiterate peasant population.  They were providing literal ‘meaning’ to narratives.  They brought news and stories that provided moral lessons (akin to Aesop’s Fables) to people who had hardly any experience beyond the village boundary.  Music acted as a memory aid, and to reinforce that point, repetition was also used.  For the most part the lyrics could stand alone as poetry.  Some of those lyrical forms that minstrels created are still used today by poets; the villanelle (though, it should be noted, this is not the villanelle as we know it in its stricter form, that dates from the Renaissance.  The earliest known villanelle is by Jean Passerat [1534–1602]),  ; the sestina and, most popular of all, the ballad.  All have an immediacy about them that belies their sophistication.  The sestina, for example, is widely acknowledged as the most difficult of forms for a poet to attempt, even though its origins are so humble.

The Renaissance of the 15th century helped to hasten the demise of the minstrel tradition and laid the basis for modern poetry.[iv]  Whilst verse form such as the sonnet and terza rima created a lyricism of their own, the poem (or ‘lyric’) ceased to be a way of narrating a message and instead became a conduit of imagery, using language as a conveyance in the same manner that painters used colour and light.

The minstrel tradition of lyric and song never totally died out.  It still existed in many agricultural parts of the world and within sections of the growing proletariat,  in what we now refer to as ‘folk’ music.  Composers such as Bartok and Vaughn Williams travelled their respective countries recording the music. It was in the mid-19th century Britain that the ballad – as - poetry - form saw the growth of anthologies of lyrics such as Palgrave’s Treasury of English Song and Lyric (first published in 1862).  As a poetic form the Ballad became very popular, especially amongst the Victorian middle-classes who saw in  it the ability to accommodate a narrative that could carry a message.    And there were many poets who were willing to come up with the goods.[v]  Poets such as Rudyard Kipling; staunch supporters of British imperialist design, who could create poetry that reflected both the glory of the Empire and that praised the characteristics of the individuals who helped maintain British rule in the colonies.  Lyric poetry, and the Ballad in particular, served the interests of the Empire by popularising the expression of pride, and resolve for its continuation.[vi]

The simplicity and directedness of the Ballad made it a perfect vehicle for all manner of social and political engagement, even as expressions of anti-establishment feeling. 

Vita Nuova

There are many pieces that began life as poems and are, today regarded as song lyrics.  Billy Holiday’s Strange Fruit  was written as a poem by a Jewish  teacher, Abel Meeropol protesting the barbarity inflicted upon the black people of the southern States. 

And singers such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger would go on to compose Ballads that expressed their political commitments.  But the Ballads they wrote needed the support of an external music in order to exert or impose an emotional response.

Take this opening verse

Come fifty-one percent of the population and listen to my song,
It's got but fifteen verses, It won't detain you long;
It's all a-bout four housewives - We took a little risk.
And how we got the title of the Housewife Terrorists

of a Seeger song.  Whilst it has a semi-humorous feel, nothing in the structure of it contains anything other than to call on the reader to, passively, listen to the story.  We gain nothing more than the story told in an entertaining manner.  The use of vernacular, a common feature of song writing, serves no other purpose than to help make the message clear for that fifty-one percent.  And whilst vernacular in this Ballad does not raise anything new and contributes nothing to our understanding and experience of language, as poets from Thomas Hardy to Tom Leonard do in their works, the use of the vernacular seems to reinforce a pessimistic view of low expectation.

Compare that to

Oh there once was a swagman camped in the  billabong,
  Under the shade of a Coolabah tree;
And he sang as he looked at his old billy boiling
  "Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me."

by A.B. Patterson.  Waltzing Matilda began life as a poem, but most of us are familiar with it as a song.  This ballad works without the musical accompaniment.  The vernacular takes us to another world, in the same manner as Lear or Carroll or Joyce.  We are not being told what to think or how to respond.  In this poem Patterson achieves what Dante managed with his poetry in praise of Beatrice di Folco Portinari in Vita Nuova:  He take us to the event.[vii]  Whereas Dante uses ‘high’ (by today's standards) language in order to transport the reader/listener, Patterson take us into a sound-world that seems to be beyond all reasoning: A  word such as ‘billabong’, with the two stressed syllables that seem to be in opposition to each other, abound throughout the poem (the ‘ee’ sound in bill – suggesting pleasure - stands polar to the sombre sound of bong, for example).  We do not really know how to react and it may be that our insecurity drives us to laugh at the word billabong. The popularity of Waltzing Matilda should not blind us to the fact that this is an outstanding use of the noise of language.

This highlights another characteristic of the Ballad form: It relies heavily on communities.  Patterson use of strange words may have been familiar to the Australians.  The words derived from a mixture of English usage and aboriginal language that may well have served as an expression of republican desires.[viii]

Conclusion:  No One Here Gets Out Alive!

In these times of vocational education it comes as no surprise that Bath University offer a Master’s degree in song writing.  And throughout academia there have been PhDs claiming that the lyrics of Bob Dylan, in particular, are poetry.  On National poetry day in 2007 children were instructed to study Dylan’s work with the aid of a special "Dylan Education Pack".[ix]  It seems to be that because a song writer comes across as “meaningful” that their work is then raised to a higher artistic pedestal.

If you call someone a duck enough times then, one day they will say “quack”.  And so we have had poetry collections from Dylan (Tarantula is in the stream-of-consciousness style of Dylan's liner notes to Highway 61 Revisited and Bringing It All Back Home. The publisher did our beloved author a great disservice in labeling these writings "Poems." – This was lifted from Amazon’s site.  I think it says it all in an honest way); Patti Smith (Her poetry is good, it’s just not that good),  John Lennon (Unbelievably a serious publisher, Jonathan Cape, actually published two volumes of Lennon’s drivel.  Admittedly this was before he went on to record two of the worst songs ever:  Imagine and a Working Class Hero.  But still, someone should have proofread In His Own Words and A Spaniard In The Works, before showing him the door) and Jim Morrison who could afford to self-publish two collections before realising there was an easier way to inflate an ego: Front a rock band man!  Get stoned and show everyone your willy.  Also there are two, very dreary, volumes of his poetry published since he passed on (saving him the trouble of dying of embarrassment, I guess!).

Most famously is the poet turned pop singer/songwriter, Leonard Cohen who, dismayed by his failure to become Canada’s poet laureate, became a gravelly-voiced singer instead.  Hit legendary status and wrote the nearest a song could get to being poetry, The Partisan.   There is still a collection of his poetry available.  Read it and weep!  It’s that bad.

But seriously.  Confusing song writing  and poetry overlooks the vast difference that exists.  It is a sad reflection on the desperation of those poets who latch onto the shirttails of pop/rock songsters. It does nothing to further the cause of poetry, in fact it simply ends up making poetry out to be the poor relative of song writing.

In short: It’s simply embarrassing!

[i]  Peter Levi.  The Noise Made By Poems. Anvil Press Poetry.  1984

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Louis Zukofsky: Selected Poems (American Poets Project)

Louise Zukofsky is not very well known in Britain, but along with Williams and Olsen he is one of the most inventive poets of the 20th century.

This small volume is as good an introduction to Zukofsky's poetry as anything else. It contains a generous selection from all his published volumes (which are difficult to get hold of) including the homophonic translations of Catullus as well as a selection from his magnum opus `A' (in my opinion the greatest of all the long poems).

My only gripe is that this volume doesn't contain `Mantis', a beautiful, and highly original, sestina.

There is a great collection of Zukofsky's short poems that may be available on the marketplace, if this whets your appetite.

Essays on Departure: New and Selected Poems 1980-2005 by Marilyn Hacker

I was introduced to the work of Marilyn Hacker by the Liverpool poet Pauline Rowe. Initially I found the subjects of the themes of her poem to be `typical of a woman poet' (chicklit). How wrong I was. The more I read of this poet the more the celebration of life in general, shone through.

Hacker could show many of today's poets (especially the British) how poetry should be composed. Her approach to her art is disciplined, sharing that approach with that great 20th century poet, Elisabeth Bishop.

This collection is an outstanding introduction to Hacker's work. Selections from nine of her volumes plus new poems represents some of the most dynamic poetry written today.

Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose, and Letters (Library of America)


This is an outstanding collection that is intelligently put together. I didn't buy this so much for the stories (they are good, but that is about all I can say). The non-fiction is interesting as are some of the letters. It is the poetry that is the thing. There is a greater selection than Complete Poems and it is well worth the extra view quid. For me, Bishop is not my favorite poet but I regard her as the greatest 20th century poet. Her discipline as an artisan jumps out from every word, her heartfelt constructions, even when doing something as demanding as a sestina, pour our and drown the reader in their beauty.

If you are not familiar with Bishop then it is the poem `The Moose' that one should turn to and experience again and again until it is recognized for what it is: the most perfect poem of the last century.

This is a book to love and that requires a word on the quality of the book itself. It is not any old print on some recycled garbage. The book is shown loving care. the Library Of America produces some outstanding collections and is one of the best book publishers I have come across. These are books made with one eye on eternity.

Waiting for the Brown Trout God by Pauline Rowe

The state of British poetry, today, leaves much to be desired. Unlike the more dynamic poets in the USA, for example, much of British poetry is tired and doesn't want to be woken up.

And so it is with great relief that Headland Press have issued this collection.

Pauline Rowe uses many concerns to create the narratives in these poems and in some there is a sense of the 'Confessional, and there is much use of the feminine third person. In itself this is nothing new, but Pauline is also concerned with the sound. When the sound of a poem feels right then the subject matter is secondary. So in '1967', for example we have lines such as 'He worked at Fords. Couldn't work her out'; beautifully balanced and loaded with so many meanings.


'She crossed off days
on the calendar
left by the milkman'

. . . from 'Wedding Elegy'. There is an overwhelming sense of pathos in this,but that is what makes a great poet. Pauline Rowe allows the reader to emote for themselves. Her poems play as journeys within the reader mind with lines and words acting as signposts for us.

The poem 'Waiting' opens with the stand - alone line 'Each day I wait for you'. Pauline seems to recognise the banality of the line and yet manages to raise it up to confront the reader and make them feel that this line is so vital.

Pauline can also prove to be playful. 'The Love Song Of Violet Trefisis' uses rhyme to maximum effect and ends with the stanza:

'I have heard the whispering
of husbands
each to each'

It is not pastiche. The poem has nothing of Elliot's vanity (though it is full of conciet) and even the existentialism seems to say more about humanity, in general, than it does of the individual.

For me it is the poem 'Burma' that is a personal favorite. It suggests the care, inteligence and love that have been put into all the other poems, but I find that this is one of the most unsettling poems I have come across.

I would recommend this book highly to anyone who cares about poetry but also to those who have never bothered with it. 'Waiting for the Brown Trout God' will make you realise why poetry can be so special.

Carnegie Hall with Tin Walls by Fred Voss

One of the poets that I could never get my head around was Charles Bukowski. His stories are okay but I found his poetry to be dross. It seemed to say nothing except: `just how great am I?'

Yet so many people love him and so many great poets found their voice through him.

Fred Voss is such a poet. But Voss is not really parading his bones across the page. For him it is the working man who is the hero and, as such, he has to have his place in the poetic canon. In this sense Voss' lineage seems more Whitman than Bukowski.

There seems to be a line of development that suggests that the poems of 'Carnegie Hall With Tin Walls' are presented in the order that they were written. One gets a sense of the misanthrope from the first couple of poems. Such as 'One of the Joys of the Job' where one of the machinists shout: 'Yeah I'm an asshole!'. But this is not so. Voss paints his poems with crazed individuals and groups. But we are drawn into this world and that can make us feel very uncomfortable.

Poetry is not meant for this!

But Voss is a poet with a real heart for the craft. His poems sing to us, sometimes like those old blues songs. It's just that the tempo doesn't repeat itself with familiarity.

For Voss the celebration of the disenfranchised is necessary. The working man maybe macho; maybe racist; maybe a drunk. But he is also a human being who (as the title of this collection suggests) those with a foot on the higher rung are only there because the working man is where he is and what he is. For the working man, their entertainment, their diversions, cannot be foung in Carnegie Hall, their life is the tin walls of The Goodstone Aircraft Company.

And even when it is time to go home:

'and you put your foot down
on the sidewalk and get off
the bus now
is all
we have'

[Now is When Einstein Shatters the Universe with His Mind]

. . . that life is never over

This is one of the most beautiful collections of poetry I have encountered in a long while. Each poem is a song, not of sadness, necessarily, but of the triumph of facing a new day.

Selected Writings (New Directions Book) (New Directions Books)


It's beggars comprehension as to why so little of this giant's work is available in translation. Equally difficult poets of the period, Rimbaud and Verlaine, for example,  have had translations widely available for many years now.  But, until this volume, the only collection I could find, in English, was a slim volume, translated by Oliver Bernerd for Penguin Modern European Poets series, back in 1965.

This volume is most welcome. Unlike the earlier volume, the translator, Roger Shattuck, provides us with a bilingual collection. Shattuck also provides a better translation which captures Apollinaire's idiosyncrasies and originality far more sharply.

The opening lines of Zone, serve to illustrate:

For Bernerd:

`In the end you are tired of that world of antiquity

`O Eiffel Tower shepherdess the bridges this morning are a bleating flock'

For Shattuck:

`You are tired at last of this old world

`O shepherd Eiffel Tower the flock of bridges bleats at the morning'

Whilst Bernerd is correct about the feminine (maybe a redundant point), Shattuck is greatly aware of Apollinaires rejection of punctuation and manages to create a clearer image by allowing the lines to flow. Bernerd attempts to maintain the line length of the original and in doing so undermines the sensation of the poem.

This volume offers a generous selection of Apollinaire's poetry. It also contains some of his prose. as with many poets, his fiction was pretty basic. But his critiques expose a sharp and original intellect who was not bogged down by the modern world, as were the War Poets or T S Elliot, but embraced it with massive enthusiasm. He saw the changes in the art world, such as Cubism, as something that presented the world with a challenge: a new perspective that cut through the chaos of war and said :'This is how it is'. And Apollinaire captured that in his poetry.

Roger Shattuck has grasped this lust for life in his translations. Apollinaire is, perhaps, comparable to Whitman in his impact on the art of poetry. I hope that Shattuck intends to translate the remaining body of Apollinaire's poetry. It would be a great service to mankind.