Because these poems do not idealize love and marriage, they may raise eyebrows as readers examine the various expressions through which British poet Donald Davie identifies the essence of true love. The poems' strength lies in their honesty and intimacy and in the openness to the pain and self-understanding that both ardor and conflict can produce. They reveal a marriage in which the partners know each other too well to be assuaged by a sentimental lyricism.
Donald Davie is widely read in Britain and the United States by those who find the tensions of deep and complex emotion most effective in poetry when expressed with discipline and restraint. Davie, who taught for many years at Stanford and Vanderbilt, was also an influential scholar and critic. Vereen M. Bell, Professor of English at Vanderbilt University, is the author of Robert Lowell: Nihilist as Hero, as well as books on Yeats and Cormac McCarthy.