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Documenting the quest to track down everything written by (and written about) the poet, translator, critic, and radio dramatist, Henry Reed.

An obsessive, armchair attempt to assemble a comprehensive bibliography, not just for the work of a poet, but for his entire life.

Read "Naming of Parts."

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Henry Reed, ca. 1960


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Cold Comfort Farm: Sensible Flora Poste moves in with her eccentric country relatives.
The Dog Stars: A man, his dog, and an airplane survive an apocalyptic flu.
The Sparrow: A Jesuit-led mission to a newly discovered planet.


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Posts from September 2011

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

23.11.2014


Sheep May Safely Graze

The Broadview Anthology of Poetry (edited by Herbert Rosengarten and Amanda Goldrick-Jones, 2008) adds an interesting footnote to Reed's "Judging Distances." The lines:
         Things only appear to be things.

A barn is not called a barn, to put it more plainly,
Or a field in the distance, where sheep may
                                                      be safely grazing
1
[42-44]
have the following note:
1 Sheep ... grazing An allusion to the Christmas anthem "Sheep May Safely Graze," by J.S. Bach.
[p. 569]
I never made that connection, before. The Bach piece in question is "Schafe können sicher weiden" (I'm sure you know):


The aria, translated from the German:
Sheep may safely graze
Where a good shepherd keeps watch.
     Where rulers govern well,
     One can sense both peace and calm
     And all that makes a land content.

«  Music Allusions  0  »


1505. Orwell, George. "Young Writers." Review of New Writing and Daylight (Summer 1943), edited by John Lehmann. Spectator (30 July 1943): 110.
Orwell says of "The End of an Impulse," Reed's criticism of the Auden-Spender school of poetry, 'Henry Reed's essay contains some valuable remarks on the dangers of group literature.'


Tomorrow Review

Yet another review of the American edition of Reed's A Map of Verona and Other Poems turned up in Google Book Search recently, this one by the poet, editor, and translator Babette Deutsch.

It appears in the Books section of the October, 1948 issue of Tomorrow. Tomorrow was a literary magazine published by the Creative Age Press in New York from 1941 to 1951, devoted to 'creative living' and to printing 'the real experiences of those who have adjusted themselves to new countries and new processes of living.' It was founded and edited by the Irish medium Eileen J. Garrett (1893-1970), who was once 'probably the best-known and most reliable psychic in the world,' according to Life magazine. She had run a labor hostel in London for wounded soldiers after World War I, and in her memoir Adventures in the Supernormal (1949), she claims 'after the first World War, I was among those who helped gather together the posthumous writings of the young poets.'

In addition to Tomorrow, Mrs. Garrett also established the Parapsychology Foundation of New York in 1951, publishing the International Journal of Parapsychology. This issue of Tomorrow sports critiques of Graham Greene and Aldous Huxley, but also includes a review of Dr. Jan Ehrenwald's Telepathy and Medical Psychology (New York, 1948). As woo-woo as this all sounds, the contributors and writing seem top-notch.

Babette Deutsch was born in New York City in 1895, and was the author of ten books of poems, four novels, and several books of criticism, as well as a respected translation of Eugene Onegin. She lectured at the New School for Social Research and Columbia University, which awarded her an honorary doctorate in 1946. She was married to the translator Avrahm Yarmolinsky, who was the head of the Slavonic Division of the New York Public Library.

Cover

Deutsch reviews Richard Wilbur's The Beautiful Changes and Reed's A Map of Verona, both published a year earlier, in 1947. Wilbur's gift, she feels, is 'to change what his poetry touches back to wonder'; whereas Reed is more 'an unwilling pupil [of Eliot] rebelling against his master,' who 'has not learned his lesson well.'

The Lessons of the War she describes as 'arresting,' and possessing a 'restrained power'; some of his other pieces exhibit a 'melancholy loveliness.' But on the whole, she finds Reed's volume lacking. His verse is 'cloying' in its melodiousness; 'curiously middle-aged' and Georgian; 'soporific' and colorless. Deutsch compares him unfavorably with Aiken, Ransom, and finally Wilbur. All this in one paragraph of 220 words.

To give credit where credit is due: I never would have found Deutsch's review if two-thirds of it weren't devoted to singing the praises of Richard Wilbur. It had been dutifully and lovingly cataloged by Wilbur's biographers and bibliographers.

«  Criticism Tomorrow  0  »


1504. Ludwig, Jennifer. "Lessons of the War: Henry Reed." In vol. 2, Literature of War: Experiences, edited by Thomas Riggs. Detroit, MI: St. James Press, 2012. 359-361.
A relatively lengthy assessment of Reed's influences, position, and the impact resulting from his famous sequence of poems, Lessons of the War.


Statistically Speaking

In the introduction to her 1986 book, English Poetry of the Second World War: A Biobibliography, Catherine W. Reilly ranks the number of appearances various poets make in the 87 anthologies of World War II poetry she inventories:
Roy Fuller (25)
Alun Lewis (24)
Sidney Keyes (21)
Stephen Spender (19)
Keith Douglas (18)
John Pudney (18)
Alan Rook (17)
Louis MacNeice (15)
Henry Reed (15)
W.H. Auden (14)
G.S Fraser (14)
Dylan Thomas (14)
John Waller (14)
Emanuel Litvinoff (13)
Henry Treece (13)
Cecil Day Lewis (12)
Herbert Corby (11)
Nicolas Moore (11)
[p. xiii]
Reilly's bibliography doesn't dispel the idea that Henry Reed's Lessons of the War are the most-anthologized poems from the Second World War, just that Reed doesn't necessarily appear in the majority of anthologies of Second World War poetry.

The fifteen anthologies on Reilly's list that Reed appears in are:
An Anthology of Modern Verse, 1940-1960, chosen by Elizabeth Jennings (London: Methuen, 1961)

Components of the Scene: Stories, Poems, and Essays of the Second World War, edited by Ronald Blythe (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1966)

English Poetry, Book 5: Modern Verse, edited by W.M. Smyth (London: Edward Arnold, 1971)

I Burn For England: An Anthology of the Poetry of World War II, selected by Charles Hamblet (London: Leslie Frewin, 1966)

The Martial Muse: Seven Centuries of War Poetry, edited by Alan Bold (London: Wheaton, 1976)

More Poems from the Forces: A Collection of Verses by Serving Members of the Navy, Army, and Air Force, edited by Keidrych Rhys (London: Routledge, 1943)

New Poems, 1944: An Anthology of American and British Verse, with a Selection of Poems from the Armed Forces, edited by Oscar Williams (New York: Howell, Soskin, 1944)

Poetry of the Forties, edited by Robin Skelton (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1968)

Poetry of the 1940s: An Anthology, edited by Howard Sergeant (London: Longman, 1970)

The Poetry of War, 1939-45, edited by Ian Hamilton (London: Alan Ross, 1965)

The Terrible Rain: The War Poets 1939-1945, selected by Brian Gardner (London: Eyre Metheun, 1978)

These Years: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, edited by Howard Sergeant (Leeds: E.J. Arnold & Sons, 1950)

The Voice of Poetry, 1930-1950: An Anthology, edited by Hermann Peschmann (London: Evans Bros., 1950)

War Poetry: An Anthology, edited by D.L. Jones (London: Pergamon, 1968)

Where Steel Winds Blow, edited by Robert Cromie (New York: David McKay, 1968)
Also, someone needs to make poor Herbert Corby (Hampdens Going Over [1945]) a Wikipedia page.



1503. King, Francis. Yesterday Came Suddenly: An Autobiography. London: Constable, 1993. 79-80.
Mentions Henry Reed and Angus Wilson making fun of the Bletchley Park Writers' Circle.


The Voice of Poetry

Covering and recovering some old ground today, when up pops a short but pithy bio in this rare anthology: The Voice of Poetry, 1930-1950, edited by Hermann Peschmann (London: Evans Bros., 1950). The book includes Reed's "Naming of Parts," but Peschmann seems to have taken the time to personally poll his contributors for personal information:

Book cover

Reed, Henry. Born 1914 in Birmingham and educated there, inc. Birmingham Univ. Called up 1941, went to Foreign Office 1942—6. Since then whole-time writer—but says he is a slow worker. Broadcasts on books and films and enjoys writing radioscripts on extended themes, e.g. Moby Dick. Fond of films, theatre and opera, and of playing the piano badly and for long stretches of time. One verse book: A Map of Verona (1946).
[p. 239]

Peschmann was, for a time in the 1940s, a lecturer in English literature for the Adult Education Department of Goldsmith College, University of London, known as a critic and for his correspondence with Dylan Thomas and others.

This anthology was published in 1950, so Reed's BBC radio adaptation of Moby Dick (January, 1947), Pytheas: A Dramatic Speculation (May, 1947), and The Unblest: A Study of the Italian Poet Giacomo Leopardi (May, 1949) would have been his only features thus far. Reed's love of theatre (and actors), opera, and film are well-documented in his letters and book reviews, and he often lamented his meticulous, plodding writing process, but the fact that he played the piano, however poorly, is actually news to me.

This tiny tidbit is so heartbreakingly personal—paraphrased from a letter or questionnaire or phone call to Reed—it's tempting to try and track down a copy of the book.



1502. Reed, Henry. Poetry Reading. The Poet Speaks. British Council recording, no. 1636. 12 March 1970. Co-sponsored by the British Council and the Woodberry Poetry Room in the Lamont Library of Harvard University. TAPE ARCHIVE PR6035.E32 A6 1970x, Woodberry Poetry Room, Houghton Library, Harvard University.
Henry Reed reads a selection of his poems for the British Council series, The Poet Speaks.



1st lesson:

Reed, Henry (1914-1986). Born: Birmingham, England, 22 February 1914; died: London, 8 December 1986.

Education: MA, University of Birmingham, 1936. Served: RAOC, 1941-42; Foreign Office, Bletchley Park, 1942-1945. Freelance writer: BBC Features Department, 1945-1980.

Author of: A Map of Verona: Poems (1946)
The Novel Since 1939 (1946)
Moby Dick: A Play for Radio from Herman Melville's Novel (1947)
Lessons of the War (1970)
Hilda Tablet and Others: Four Pieces for Radio (1971)
The Streets of Pompeii and Other Plays for Radio (1971)
Collected Poems (1991, 2007)
The Auction Sale (2006)


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