27 APRIL 1956, Page 34


THE latest addition to the 6 Great Or 6 Great Poets, by Aubrey de San° (Hamish Hamilton, 10s. 6d.), makes claim to profound, original scholarship, does it try to compress too much into too


a space. It is written in a lively, 'pdpular for young readers, and will give enjoyment older ones as well. The six poets are: Ch0 Pope, Wordsworth, Shelley, Tennyson. the Brownings. An odd choice, perhalls. all except two are nineteenth-century. there is nothing to fill the 300-year gap Uet1 Chaucer and Pope.' Mr. de Selincourt that Shakespeare's poetic world is sacross and he wisely and intentionally leaves it ale but could he not have sacrificed a laic' for Spencer, Marlowe, Donne or Milton? essays are part biographical, part crin in some of the critical passages they lend become discursive. Short, unnecessary tions are often used that smudge the Ijae. idea instead of emphasising it. The quota° from Chaucer are inconsistent with Mr: Selincourt's argument that 'any deternil reader with his wits about him and a.gles. at his elbow' can quickly accustom himself the original language, which should alwaYls, used. Then he gives his own extracts modeinised spelling, which is rnisteadir'g, any reader who, unacquainted with fouricef century English but encouraged by what sees here, comes eventually to tackle