Two Voices

Seamus Heaney

  • The New Cratylus by A.D. Hope
    Oxford, 179 pp, £12.75, November 1979, ISBN 0 19 550576 X

There is a certain pleasure in listening to people we know rehearsing their prejudices and enjoying our assent to their own enjoyment of themselves. A.D. Hope takes for granted that kind of assent: he comes on in this book as the character we have known in the past, the contrary traditionalist renewing the vows of his poetic faith and pronouncing against old heresies. His position may sound embattled but we know that it is eminent. His aggravations have become his quirks, so that, for example, when he speaks of ‘the mindless sludge of surrealist verse’, we feel it to be less an expression of anger and revulsion than a reminder that in his time he was a bit of an enfant terrible.

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