“But in this March we stare each otherndown / two rams caught in a thicket bynthe horns.” One can everywhere findnexamples of good beginnings, ofnthoughts that aren’t completed, of nonnsequiturs that form nothing more than anague mood, and of strained conclusions.nBut Daison’s talent calls for andifferent observation.nIf bad poets, plentifully supplied bynthe academic world, wish to defend andnenjo’ the formless, incoherent state tonwhich they’ve reduced contemporarynpoetry, that’s fine: e’en if the}’ abandonedntheir doctrines against poeticnmeter and rhyme and simple intelligibility,nthe’d probably still not expandnthe audience for new poetry. But if anman of Peter Davison’s powers andnexperience were to pick up the gauntlet,nit seems probable that he—and othersnwho’d no doubt follow him—couldnsae contemporary American poetrynfrom the discredit in which it’s held bvnits potential readership. We can onK’nhope that Peter Davison, with PrayingnWrong behind him, will accept thenchallenge. ccnWilliam Rice is a fiction writer innPhiladelphia.nEye-Openersnby Sandra SidernRoger Shattuck: The Innocent Eye:nOn Modern Literature and the Arts;nFarrar, Straus & Giroux; New York.nThe Innocent Eye is a collection of 22nessas by critic and historian RogernShattuck. Divided into three main sections,nthe book spans 20 years of criticalnwriting, though most of the essays comenfrom the last decade. These representativenselections demonstrate Shattuck’sncontinuing concern with the creativenprocess as focused in French literaturenand art of the 20th century. Writers andnartists considered here include Balzac,nBaudelaire, X’alery, Artaud, Malraux,nMonet, Stravinsky, Magritte, andnDuChamp.nFour new essays, first published innthis collection, display Shattuck’s earnestninvolvement with artistic consciousness.nHis usual whimsy and playfulnwit are noticeably absent in thesenfour pieces—hardly surprising for anwriter immersed in the self-destructivencourse of modern society and the awesomenresponsibility of self-realization ornattempting to interpret ApoUinaire’s visual’npoem “Ocean-Letter.” Shattuck’snconcern with the foibles of modernnculture culminates in his afterword,n”The Innocent Eye and the ArmednVision.”nShattuck calls for a critical disarmament,nwhich he likens to Keats’s “negativencapability,” Rimbaud’s “dereglementnde tons les sens,” Brecht’sn”Verfremdungeffekt,” and Ruskin’s “innocencenof the eye.” He calls for faithnin the particular (obviously based in anparticular culture) rather than the abstractionnof semiotics or the absurdity ofntextuality. Shattuck argues that a “responsibleneducation” (which one assumesnwould include travel, historicalnresearch, and interdisciplinary studies)nmight teach us “tolerant wisdom in thenface of what we both know and don’tnknow.” Such training (the “armed vision”)ndoes indeed liberate the eye tonexplore works of art from all culturesnwith renewed candor and wonder.nThe problem with The Innocent Eyenis that Shattuck addresses his plea toncritics, who must resort to the limitationsnof language for their critical interpretationsnof art. The “innocence” ofnthe passive eye must always be compromisednby the all-too-active criticalntongue. The best that we can do is tonkeep our minds as open as our eyes, ccnSandra Sider is an art critic whonwrites from New York.nGrendel Redivivusnby E. Christian Kop£fnMarijane Osborne: Beowulf: A VersenTranslation With Treasures of the AncientnNorth; University of CalifornianPress; Berkeley.nThis is a beautiful book, artfully crafted,nfitting attractively on a coffee table,nthough somewhat outsized when yountry to put it on a shelf Scattered on thenpage next to the translation are picturesnof Anglo-Saxon art, to give the reader anfeeling of that ancient culture, distantlynrelated to our own. The translationnitself is straightforward, composed in anmeter echoing without reproducing thenmetrical pattern of the original. AlthoughnOsborne fights shy of the difficultiesnof the meter, after Kennedy andnChickering among translators, Lewisnand Tolkien among scholars, and EzranPound, Basil Bunting, and John Pecknamong poets, it is getting harder to treatnthe Anglo-Saxon alliterative line asnan obstacle to fine verse, instead of anchallenge.nWhen Osborne confronts the densitynof Anglo-Saxon poetic diction and itsnnnverbal music, she typically prefers tonsimplify. Some may feel that she isnironing out the creases along with thenwrinkles. So firena hyrde, “shepherd ofnsins,” used of the monster Grendel,nbecomes “that cruel fiend.” In pedanticncontrast, a number of Old Englishnwords are kept in the text and translatednin the notes. These range from essentialnOld English concepts like wyrd andnshape (“bard,” spelled scop in Old Englishntexts), common words like sarksnand athelings, for which equivalents ornparaphrases exist in English, and wordsnlike thane and byrnies, which do survivenin 19th-century literature andnshould be familiar to readers of, say. SirnWalter Scott.nThe frequent Germanic compoundsnof the original are consistently avoided.nThe result is an anomaly. The translationnis well-fitted for an undergraduatentranslation course on the epic or “GreatnBooks,” since its simplicity of languagendoes not put too great a strain on thencurrent undergraduate while signalingnto the only slightly better-read graduateninstructor when to pause to commentnon “Fate in Beowulf or “The Role ofnthe Bard in Anglo-Saxon Epic.” Thenwork, however, is an oversized book,nloaded with artistic pictures thatninvite the reader to peruse slowly andnthoughtfully.nOsborne and the Yale Anglo-Saxonnscholar Fred Robinson each contributenan essay to the volume, the latter on thenMOVING?nLET US KNOW BEFORE YOU GO.nTo assure uninterrupted delivery of Chroniclesnof Culture, please notify us in advance. Sendnthis form with the mailing label from yournlatest issue of Chronicles of Culture to: SubscriptionnDepartment, Chronicles of Culture, P.O.nBox 800, Rockford, Illinois 61105.nNAMEnADDRESSnCITYnSTATE. .ZIPnAUGUST 1985/29n