Ted (Edward Walker) Walker Vernon Young - Essay

Vernon Young

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

No poet writing in England today has a closer, more recondite knowledge of the secret life in the non-human universe than Ted Walker. In each of his four volumes to date … Walker has been contriving quiet, hair-raising (and musically precise) metaphors from his great gift for relating our inattentive senses to the cryptic features of animals, fish, birds—flowers, even—in which, if we paused to look (with his patience and his occult powers) we would see ourselves, or the wreck of ourselves, writ plain. A cautionary word. Walker does not on compulsion go hunting for similitudes; they arise naturally, or appear to, in the course of the poem, like a sudden tremor in tall grass as a fox shudders through before going to earth…. Walker is knowledgeably certain that life feeds on life; that our civil existence, for which he has a fully human respect, is purchased at the price of being witlessly outside the skin of things. He is nervously aware of blood under the fingernails, tyrannically, sensitive to the creep and push of seasons, something only a country-dwelling man would be alive to and suffer from or exult in—marvelling at our loss. (p. 599)

Vernon Young, in The Hudson Review (copyright © 1975 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; reprinted by permission), Vol. XXVIII, No. 4, Winter, 1975–76.