Philip Horne

  • The Pale Companion by Andrew Motion
    Viking, 164 pp, £11.95, September 1989, ISBN 0 670 82287 6

In 1982, at the age of 30, Andrew Motion, together with Blake Morrison, claimed attention in the Introduction to the Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry for the idea that ‘British poetry is once again undergoing a transition’: the new poets, many of them ‘Martians’, showed ‘a preference for metaphor and poetic bizarrerie to metonymy and plain speech’, and ‘a renewed interest in narrative’. Their leader was not Larkin but Heaney, who ‘delights in language’ and yet also benefits from ‘a larger historical framework’. For quite a few of those yoked together by their ‘common purpose’ – ‘to extend the imaginative franchise’ – the perspective of children played an important part, as ‘one way of viewing the commonplace with wonder and innocence’.

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