Collected Poems. By Frances Cornford. (Cresset Press. 10s. 6d.)
FRANCES CORNEORH, whose poems are collected now for the first time, holds a small, but individual area of poetic territory somewhere half-way between Emily Dickin- son and the English Georgians. A poem like' Summer Beach', however, nevermana gcs quite to achieve the metaphysical shudder which is present throughout the work of Emily Dickinson. The tension is never great enough to get over a rather too'poetic' use of language, and Miss COmford seems to be at her best in pure description, where her girt for sharp, fresh observation can show to best advantage:
I used to think that grown-up people chose To have stiff backs and wrinkles round their nose,
And veins like small fat snakes on either hand. . . .
These lines come from a poem called 'Childhood', and show clearly the nature of Miss Cornford's talent. It is an innocent approach to the world, an innocent approach to language that informs her best poems. But the innocence of the child rather than of the mystic—there is a real difference in spite of Blake—and, whatever the quality of individual poems, this means that other practitioners have nothing to learn from her. The blurb on this book says that Miss Cornford's voice 'ha been neither drowned by nor assimilated to the concerted music of twentieth-century verse.' What is odd is that the second part of the sentence should be put forward as a recommendation.