Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 4 April 17, 1946
The Caxton Press must be developing quite an exotic garden. Its books, sown in the rich soil of modern printing, by gardeners willing to see what will grow, make a pretty array. Now the Caxton has produced a primrose: Dennis Glover's "Summer Flowers."
In eight light, easy poems "Summer Flowers" is a pleasant story of a love that came, and went, apparently as easily and as lightly as the poems themselves. Glover has done what James Joyce could not do as well in "Chamber Music." Glover's superior achievement in this kind of verse is because he is a more developed human than Joyce was. By letting all his parts be equally expressive Glover does not concentrate his energies at one particular part—at the brain, or just as bad, at the emotions.
Not one of the poems in "Summer Flowers" can be extracted as the best—apart from discussions of technique—for each is an episode in a merry serial. Perhaps it seems merry owing to Glover's underlying mood of goodhearted vanity that hides any deeper feelings he may have had during the serial.
Yet, we are still in the generations nurtured on the big creators of the Renaissance and after, no matter how much they are now being diffused in popular folk culture. In this light "Summer Flowers" is another work of another "little" poet. To-day there are many Glovers about, from Eliots to Masons, all involved pottering around with egocentricic interpretations of life. They cannot help it because history has taken the stuffing out of them. In an era of transition they either whittle away the time with things of the moment, or they explore for the meaning behind all moments, before returning stability gets them into the illusion of certainty.
Though not an open expression of this, "Summer Flowers" in another victim of the old cry of "loss of values"; a moan silly and blind from wars and depressions, forgetting that the values that matter exist independently of those events and art, science or other vogues.
Glover has concerned himself with a fundamental of life—affection—but he deals with it in Herrlck's manner, exhibiting himself in the current conflict. The poems have a range from the traditional universal poetic love images to images concerning cigarettes, beer, and oysters, and all the time with some selfishness.
My love has called me darling.
(The girl must be ill)
To bring "Summer Flowers" into the light beyond its own is not to belittle the work. Glover is with the rest of us at the same wailing wall: Poor Life! Poor Love! Poor Poetry!
Evidently the time has come in which poetry cannot leave concentrating on the immediate personal, social, poetic, or on oysters. Prose now seeks the essence of things. In Aldous Huxley, by exploring what is beyond time and space, in Arthur Koestler, by exploring what is in time and space.