Kenneth Slessor: A biography
Viking, 377 pp, $30 pb
Geoffrey Dutton will not concentrate. Information relevant to his subject reminds him of other titbits, as in this cascade of irrelevancies:
McKee Wright deserves the credit for having first published Slessor, and he published a remarkable number of women poets. However, some of his favourites amongst the latter might have been better left in obscurity. Marie E.J. Pitt, for example, in the issue for 10 July 1919:
Oh, take me, take me, little wind that blows
Ere the young moon
Blossoms in heaven like a mystic rose,
And the stars swoon
Down languorous aisles of Night’s enchanted noon!
(‘Noon’ for ‘midnight’, incidentally, is the old usage sanctified by Tennyson: ‘Night hath climbed her peak of highest noon.’)
For a biography of Slessor, Dutton should have made the first comma a full stop, unless the point was to let us know that Dutton knows his Tennyson.