"Reviewing dulls the palate," writes Gavin Ewart in a mordant little poem called "Diary of a Critic" (The Collected Ewart 1933-1980, London, Hutchinson , p. 162). I have met only one American who has ever heard of, let alone read anything by, Ewart; he is a poet who needs a good review somewhere. He will not get one in the pages of the new clothbound annual Review . . .(Review is what I was reviewing in this piece).
In the years since that "meta-review" was published, I've met several people to whom Gavin Ewart is not "terra incognita"; but it still surprises me how few people know his work. In the evangelistic spirit, then, I've decided to put up one of his poems here--one that I used (albeit briefly) in my own dissertation--reprinted from the Times Literary Supplement of January 26, 1973, where it appeared on page 90.
That woman who to me seems most a woman
I do not compare to angels--or digress on schismatic Popes--
or exalt above the terrestrial or consider a madonna.
Nor do I search in others for her lineaments,
or wish for Death to free me from desire,
or consider Love an archer; or see her as a Daphne,
fleeing the embraces of Apollo, transformed into a laurel.
I am not lost in the amorous wood of Virgil.
But although I do not rhyme or use the soft Italian,
my love is a strong love, and for a certain person.
Human beings are human; I can see a man might envy
her bath water as it envelops her completely.
That's what my love would like to do; and Petrarch
can take a running jump at himself--or (perhaps?) agree.
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