That this volume, comically overdressed in a wrapper depicting the interiors of Salisbury (front) and Ely (back) Cathedrals and emblazoned with Gothic lettering in an iridescent red, is perhaps minimally more compelling than, say, The Collected Early Verse of Mickey Spillane, is due to its advance re-enactment, its miniature pre-figuration, of this writer’s later and more consequential errors.
I shudder from a consideration of the techniques my friend must have used upon the eponymous director of this little publishing firm, Mr. Underwood-Miller, while encouraging this gentleman to bring out a volume of the poetry written in his youth. I also decline to pass judgment on the verses themselves, which I gather are passable, however imitative of those older, more established, more accomplished, in every way better poets Straub happened to be reading at the time. I remember Peter’s immersion into poetry, which was total and all-consuming, and therefore I understand his reasons for pressuring poor Mr. Underwood-Miller into publishing this collection.
What I do wish to remark, however, is the curious fact that after beginning with a reasonable version of workmanlike clarity my friend’s brief career as a poet steadily, relentlessly declined into murk and pretension. Once he stumbled upon the likes of Mr. Jaques Dupin and Mr. Yves Bonnefoy, who jointly preside over the final sections of this book, Peter was finished, through. His abandonment of poetry can be explained in no other way. One wishes that he had been capable of learning from his own, no doubt bitter, example.
Putney Tyson Ridge