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
Karsell, Doris. "New Poet Now Mature." Delta Democrat-Times (Greenville, MS), 12 October 1947, 9.

New Poet Now Mature

A MAP OF VERONA. By Henry Reed. Reynal & Hitchcock. $2.50.

Reviewed by

Doris Karsell

Here is presented a volume of verse by a poet of unfamiliar name. The end papers, however, identify Henry Reed as a "young Englishman of acute talent"; but since most end papers are alike in their proselytism, the words mean very little. The reviewer was inclined to remember a dozen recent "thin volumes" by young illusionaries productive of quantities of meaningless verse imitative of T. S. Eliot or the French moderns.

It is an act of great inaccuracy to preclude.

"A Map of Verona" is the first published volume of Henry Reed. Without having the appearance of being labored over, each line in the collection has been cut and finished with precision. One believes that no other form or words could have been used. The greater number of poems is written in blank verse, but the author's understanding of the medium and he skill with which he employs it, allows one for forget the "style" and to remain unconscious of the medium.

The first of the volume's five parts is called Preludes. As if the words were sent to the receiving system by strings, and breath through hollowed wood, one is made to climb out of the box of his own limitations. One is given the long ribbon of time in its three phases. It is a clever thing that the beginning sketch establishes partnership. For the reader knows he himself has written the first verse which Henry Reed has borrowed. He knows that he is the sole one to experience it.

Nor is the reader allowed to hasten through without the contemplation of ideas. In the final Prelude, we read:

"Seasons return, and today I am fifty-five,
And this time last year I was fifty-four,
And this time next year I shall be sixty-two.
And I cannot say I should care (to speak for myself)
To see my time over again—if you can call it time
Fidgeting uneasily under a [sic]

Part II is The Desert. Herein is a panoramic series of sketches from shipwreck to the travels of Rimbaud. Herein is indication of the many facets of the poet's interest.

Henry Reed had spent some time in Cornwall where the Arthurian legends lived. At Land's End the road runs down to the sea's edge and disappears into the sunken places. Before the road reaches the sea, it leads to the ruins of Tintagel castle where Tristram and Iseult lie buried. The third section of the volume is called Tintagel. The author is drawn by legend, but expresses it not alone for the beauty of myth nor the universal interest in its narrative, but too, for the significance which legend holds for all men whatever the time.

It is a delicate passing from Celtic earth-memory to Greek myth. The fourth section is a tryptitch. These are spoken by characters from plays of Sophocles. Chrysothemis, from the tragic Agamemnon cycle, sings a lament. There are two who discuss the fate of Antigone who sacrificed greatly for her brother. And finally, the warrior Philoctetes relates his trial in the Trojan War and his decision.

The last section of "A Map of Verona" is part of a radio script for Moby Dick. In this, as Melville conceived it, Ishmael is the narrator.

Read it. Read the whole volume aloud, even should you read it alone.

This is the exception and the good. It is possible we shall remember Henry Reed.




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