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
Lougée, David. "The Long Road to Parnassus." Voices: A Quarterly of Poetry 135 (Autumn 1948): 54.


A Map of Verona and Other Poems, by Henry Reed. Reynal & Hitchcock. $2.50.

At its best, Mr. Reed's volume is dry and fair; for the most part, however, the climate is unbearably arid. The poet's frame of reference is one monotonous reel of cities, ruins, beaches, waves, islands, jungles, and seasons: backdrops for an unwritten play. Pretentious ghosts, aided by Eliotian paradoxes, ruminate on the unchanging landscape, endeavoring vainly to justify its existence. The book should really have been entitled The Search for a Theme Through Dull Weather.

Aside from an occasionally excellent line, such as:

An unsolved smile on a now familiar mouth,

it is little wonder that Mr. Reed's best effects are gained through a choice of adjective, for despite the poetic trappings, the prevailing note is one of descriptive prose rather than poetry. When the surface is recognizably poetic, his debts are all too discernible. The prevalent influences are Eliot—where we have an almost downright imitation of Four Quartets, Auden (Today we have naming of parts), a touch of Frost (You cannot cage a field) and a few whispers of Poe (In the strangling exile of winter).

On the whole, A Map of Verona, except, perhaps, for a few of the opening poems, fails to ring true; apparently devoid of any meaningful direction, it suggests a serious hoax.




Page last modified: 01 October 2016