REQUIEM FOR THE LIVING by C. Day Lewis

REQUIEM FOR THE LIVING

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The old Oxford Gang of the '30's had four platforming poets: Auden was leader, Spender the lyricist, the late MacNeice journalist, and C. Day Lewis the Communist activist. Since then a lot of sea changes have settled, and Lewis, with whom we're concerned, has gone from Marxist moonlighting and apostrophes to the class struggle or the steam engine, towards a sort of neo-Georgianism, a very cautious verse celebrating, at its deepest levels, philosophical and private concerns. However simplicity, not complexity, has been the Lewis sine qua non. The latest collection-supple and shrewd, without any self-inflation, shows mature remembrances and reflections ""About nature's give-and-take -- the small, the scorching/Ordeals which fire one's irresolute clay"". All the poems communicate, whether they be bestiaries and florals, dramatic monologues or elegies. They have an economic eye and ear, at times a low-keyed scrupulosity suggesting the influence of the later Blunden and Muir, at others the direct, decisive diom of the middle Graves. A few really reverberate and some engage with wistfulness or wit. But what Lewis and his generation (Auden excluded) lacks is a demon to call one's own or the courage to call to one's demon. Charting pleasant paths to parts of the forest, Lewis steers clear of the dark wood at dead center, a challenge the circumspect never, never embrace.

Publisher: Harper & Row