ROBERT GRAVES COLLECTED POEMS
With the "crowning privilege" of the chair of poetry at Oxford bestowed on him in February, Robert Graves appropriately brings out his new collection of his poems. In each of four earlier collections- the last in 1955- he has suppressed those that did not pass muster, and has done this again here. A versatile man- an erudite and imaginative scholar, a brilliant, evocative writer of historical fiction, a free swinging critic of other writers' poetry, we are reluctantly reaching the conclusion that he is himself a mediocre poet. This reader feels that not one of the verses here can claim music or magic. At every step his erudition (the quality he derides in Pound and Eliot), his Irish wit, his fear of cant and rhetoric, trip him up. Moreover, although the poems are arranged in roughly chronological order, they show small evidence of growth or inward vision. One of the satirical poems is about himself: "The lost, the freakish, the unspelt drew me; for simple sights I had no eye." There is Graves the poet in a nutshell. Probably on his name the volume will sell. He is after all one of the outstanding colorful, maverick literary figures of our day.