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Documenting the quest to track down everything written by (and written about) the poet, translator, critic, and radio dramatist, Henry Reed.

An obsessive, armchair attempt to assemble a comprehensive bibliography, not just for the work of a poet, but for his entire life.

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I Capture the Castle: A girl and her family struggle to make ends meet in an old English castle.
Dusty Answer: Young, privileged, earnest Judith falls in love with the family next door.
The Heat of the Day: In wartime London, a woman finds herself caught between two men.


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«  Love, Release, the Revelation  »

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

7.10.2022


Love, Release, the Revelation

I recently added, and failed to note here, Alan Jenkins' 1991 Independent review of Reed's Collected Poems, "In Other Men's Shadows." Jenkins notes the poet's debts to Hardy, Auden, and MacNeice (Reed 'pre-echoes' The Movement poets), but points out

[w]hat is Reed's and Reed's alone is a tonality, an emotional palette, a special feeling for romantic potentiality, the moment before something tremendous happens or after it has receded. The something tremendous — love, release, the revelation of transcendent beauty, all of these at once....

'Properly,' Jenkins says, the posthumous collection 'rescues Reed from the two-poem limbo to which the anthologies... have consigned him.'

Also very recently, I discovered a lovely summary of Reed's poetic influence and influences, in The New Guide to Modern World Literature, by Martin Seymour-Smith (New York: Peter Bedrick, 1985):
Henry Reed (1914) has published only one collection of poems, A Map of Verona (1947), but this is widely read — it remained in print for a quarter of a century. There are a few good uncollected poems. He has earned his living as a translator and writer of radio scripts — including the famous 'Hilda Tablet' series. Reed has written several distinctly different kinds of poem: the metaphysical, influenced above all by Marvell; a narrative, contemplative poetry influenced by Eliot (q.v.); parody — as in 'Chard Whitlow', which was Eliot's own favourite parody of himself; a narrative poem influenced not by Eliot but by Hardy (q.v.) — such as 'The Auction Sale'. Reed's justly famous 'Lessons of the War' sequence is in his metaphysical vein, exploiting double entendre to its limit, varying the tone from the wistful to the broadly comic (as in the third poem of the sequence). The less well known 'The Auction Sale' handles narrative as well as it can be handled in this age. Reed is a poet of greater range than is usually recognized; only his Eliotian contemplative poetry really fails to come off, and even this is eloquent and rhythmically interesting.
That single paragraph comes the closest I've seen to placing Reed solidly in any school of poetry, even though it leaves him straddling Hardy's Naturalism, The Romantics, and the Moderns.

Additionally, I turned up a very nice exploration of the 'military/poetic problem' in "Judging Distances," in Robert Hewison's Under Siege: Literary Life in London, 1939-1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977), which I hope to be able to post soon. Stay tuned!


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Notation for "Love, Release, the Revelation":
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What is Henry Reed's first name?

1535. Reed, Henry. "Talks to India," Men and Books. Time & Tide 25, no. 3 (15 January 1944): 54-55.
Reed's review of Talking to India, edited by George Orwell (London: Allen & Unwin, 1943).



1st lesson:

Reed, Henry (1914-1986). Born: Birmingham, England, 22 February 1914; died: London, 8 December 1986.

Education: MA, University of Birmingham, 1936. Served: RAOC, 1941-42; Foreign Office, Bletchley Park, 1942-1945. Freelance writer: BBC Features Department, 1945-1980.

Author of: A Map of Verona: Poems (1946)
The Novel Since 1939 (1946)
Moby Dick: A Play for Radio from Herman Melville's Novel (1947)
Lessons of the War (1970)
Hilda Tablet and Others: Four Pieces for Radio (1971)
The Streets of Pompeii and Other Plays for Radio (1971)
Collected Poems (1991, 2007)
The Auction Sale (2006)


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