Summer 1959 • Vol. XXI No. 3 Nonfiction |

Edwin Muir: Between the Tiger’s Paws

Young Englishmen when asked how they felt about the poetry of Edwin Muir answered by and large that they had not troubled to make an opinion about it because it had little relation to the serious venture of poetry at this time. There was an intonation of voice that, if prompted to make an opinion, would make a bad one. Young Americans when asked returned a restive blankness, rather like the puppy who does not understand what is wanted, and the Americans, in this case, were nearer right than the English if only because they had nothing at all to go on, and the Englishmen (so we like to think) ought to have known better as a race of people given to the making of verse: of making something into verse; a habit which has occasionally produced poetry. I would say that the Americans needed instruction, while the English needed correction about matters of fact. There is something wrong about habits of writing poetry which insist on valuing highly only the professional poetry which springs (

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