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The English poet, born in 1908, takes another autobiographical drift back, now--following The Land Unknown (1975)--into her infancy and young girlhood. Raine, however, is wary of time frames. She secures images and sensations from her past in a London suburb and the pristine Northumberland countryside principally to ""discover in the seemingly fortuitous succession of events the inner pattern of our own nature""--to affirm selfhood, then and now. Her poetic instinct was perhaps first aroused, she remembers, by the hint of exile, by a longing for an inaccessible lost Paradise--not Eden or Zion but her maternal country, Scotland. There existed the poetry, legend, and song which gave her Scots mother a love of imagination and beauty. ""My father's [English] people were never my people, in any living sense."" For her Methodist, socialist father, life was a task to be performed. And responding to the values of both parents was the poet, opting for Sweetness and Light. Raine recreates marvelous appearances, magical places, even a first love affair with a pimply aspiring aesthete who joined her in trying to break through the ""meagre culture"" of their homes. She rails against ugliness--nature obliterated for dreary flats filled with dispossessed people, and their ""dire respectability."" In spite of a surfeit of flashing-eyes-and-floating-hair, there is some graceful prose, along with many redeeming intuitions about the consciousness of childhood when ""We have not already in thought moved on, or away. . . . We are eternally there."" Special.

Pub Date: March 14th, 1977
Publisher: Braziller