Critical and biographical information on Henry Reed, World War II British poet, critic, translator, and radio dramatist — author of "Naming of Parts"
Henry Reed, poet and radio dramatist
The Poetry of Henry Reed Homepage
Swallow, Allen. "Some Current Poetry." New Mexico Quarterly Review 18, no. 4 (Winter 1948): 460.


A Map of Verona and Other Poems, by Henry Reed. New York: Reynal and Hitchcock, 1947. $2.50.
The Dispossessed, by John Berryman, New York: William Sloane Associates, Inc., 1948. $2.50.

John Berryman has written in great praise of Henry Reed's first volume to appear in America. The reason, I believe, is that Berryman recognizes in Reed a fellow toiler on the same road. Reed, even more strongly than Berryman, indicates a strong reaction to the witty, metaphysical style imitated by so many young poets: a reaction to Eliot, Yeats, and Auden as gods of the young poet. Berryman has moved, less sharply, perhaps, in a similar situation. By analogy they can be compared with Robinson and Hardy, in that they turn away from a popular style which had inserted itself everywhere and was leading more and more to innocuous repetition and third-rate writing; they strike out for a new style. And, like Robinson and Hardy, the two young men have dabbled in a variety of efforts in their search; like the two older poets, Reed and Berryman occasionally lapse into one aberration of style or another, losing the identity of apprehension. At that point, the analogy ends; Reed and Berryman have far to go to attain the achievement of the two older men, and, fortunately, with good luck they will have great chance to attempt that achievement. Reed is attracted to a long line which, by its control of rhythm and other aspects of language, contrasts remarkably with the long line in the poems of Oscar Williams. Reed's language moves within the qualities of heightened, controlled speech; the style is equally prepared for argument and logical development, for the economy of a short lyric, and for irony. It is an important achievement for one at the beginning of a career. Much the same can be said of Berryman's style and his ability to adapt it, but with somewhat more reservation than in the case of Reed; Berryman has seemed a bit more confused, somewhat less willing to launch forth on his own, than has Reed. This may well be accounted for by the poetic climate in England, which has already moved farther in Reed's direction than has the poetic climate in this country. Berryman's achievement is best in the few poems, such as "At Chinese Checkers" and "Farewell to Miles," in which he manages a ruminative rhetoric which has the ability of carrying its thinking with it and come out at the end with a fully developed poem. Those few poems are a considerable achievement for a first book.




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