The Tomorrow Poems of Allen Curnow: Changes from 1930s to the Present Day
Deepsouth v.4 n.1 (Autumn 1998)
Copyright (c) 1998 by
|Frances Davies - University of Otago, Department of English|
"It's amazing how much a poem can support, if you trust it and keep it in your head."
discussion about the development of New Zealand literature over the last
century would have to include some reference to the poet and critic, Allen
Curnow. From his 1933 volume, Valley of Decision to his latest collection
Early Days Yet, published in September 1997, Curnow’s poetic career
stretches over six decades, allowing him to not only observe but also to
be directly involved in the formation of a uniquely New Zealand style.
Allen Curnow began publishing poems in various journals and periodicals in the mid-1930s. Amongst these publications was the Christchurch periodical Tomorrow which has been said to have helped launch the careers of a number of New Zealand's major writers from Curnow's generation including Glover, Fairburn and indeed Curnow himself. Between 1934 and 1938, Curnow published 14 poems in Tomorrow under his own name and 23 under the pseudonym "Julian" as well as a few prose items including letters, short stories and a review of Fairburn's Dominion.2 From these, only 9 poems, or partial sequences, have been subsequently published in Curnow's volumes from the 1930s and in his 1973 Collected Poems, while none at all are included in his Selected Poems from 1982 or his recently published Early Days Yet.3.
Furthermore, most of the poems which have "survived" Curnow's selection process have been revised, with changes to the text body as well as form. Many, which originally appeared as independent poems became part of sequences in subsequent publications. Indeed five out of the nine surviving poems or partial sequences from Tomorrow have been added together the make the 1939 sequence "Not in Narrow Seas". Two of the other poems were published in Enemies in 1937 while the remainder made up two thirds of the 1935 publication Three Poems. Even more changes were made when the poems were published again in the 1973 Collected Poems, despite Curnow's claim that he had "altered almost nothing in "Not in Narrow Seas."4 In this paper I shall examine the surviving poems from Curnow's Tomorrow years and consider how they have been changed. I shall also offer some suggestions as to why the revisions have been made and what this shows about Curnow as a poet.
The first Tomorrow poems to be re-published by Curnow were "Restraint" and "Aspect of Monism", both of which were originally published in 1935 under the pseudonym "Julian," and later appeared unchanged in Curnow's Three Poems in that same year. The relative speed of re-publication may account for the lack of textual changes in this second edition, but only very minor alterations are made even in the 1973 Collected Poems. For example, in "Restraint" the word "and" is omitted in line seven and in "Aspect of Monism" the title is pluralised, and the word "the " is replaced with "an" in the fourth line of part two. What is interesting about these poems is not how they have been revised independently, but rather why Curnow brought the two poems, and another called "The Wilderness," together in one volume.
Connections between the poems can be seen in terms of theme and imagery. In "Restraint," Curnow warns us not waste time searching for exotic places and exciting events when the true beauty of life can be found much closer to home. He suggests that we should appreciate the beauty we have around us because we might miss out altogether if we look too hard elsewhere. In the fifth stanza, Curnow stresses the "oneness" or unity of the world, and says that
wherever we goThis feeling of oneness is echoed in "Aspects of Monism." In part ii, Curnow asserts that "Nothing passes, all is one moment / possessing richly world's breadth." Both poems use similar imagery of continuity or seamlessness in terms of time and space. Likewise in part iii, the image of sunrise that we saw in "Restraint" stanza five is adopted and developed, capturing the "bodiless unity" of the world at dawn. In part iv Curnow sums up with the idea that "earth, love, death, [are] lost in a single span" of time. These poems all claim that everything is interlinked and part of one unified experience. There is a pattern in everything including the world in which we live.
contribute to the feeling of one-ness, all three poems share a common focus
on the natural world. Imagery of a flower and the sea is used in "Restraint,"
while in "Aspect of Monism" Curnow paints a picture of the sun shining
on trees and mountains. There is a sense of lasting stability about these
descriptions that contrasts with the transitory quality of human life.
Curnow seems to be suggesting that although the perpetual motion of the
earth is not unlike the perpetual motion of our lives, our propulsion is
towards death. No matter where we are or who we are, time affects us all
in the same way. The notion of impending death is dealt with specifically
in "The Wilderness" where Curnow seems to suggest that we need to prepare
our "souls" for death. Unlike the "stars" and the "trees" that seem to
last forever, we lose our beauty, grow old and die and we must prepare
for this eventuation. This more spiritual aspect can also be seen in "Aspect
of Monism" part i, where Curnow denies the division of "body and mind"
in terms of spiritual responsibility. He says that we cannot blame our
human bodies for acting in contradiction with what we believe to be right
because the mind is interconnected with it. This seems to share a similar
theme as "The Wilderness" the recognition that we must do what is "right"
according to our "mind" and not give in to our bodily desires so we are
ready for whatever death brings.
One such sequence, "A Woman in Mind," which appeared in Curnow's volume Enemies in 1937, contained another poem from Tomorrow. The six-line verse "Song For Her Approach," first published in 1935, was one of only two Tomorrow poems to be re-published in the 1937 volume. It is a short poem in which the narrator compares the "music" of Spring to the way he feels when "she" approaches. When included in the seven-part sequence, the poem loses its individual name and is known only as "Part IV." However, no changes to the text itself are made until the sequence in republished in the 1973 Collected Poems when the word "vision" is replaced with "semblance" adding to the alliterative effect of the 's' that is found throughout the poem. In a poem about "music" and aural experience it is fitting that such sound effects are adopted by Curnow.
The poem fits well into the sequence and shares a number of similarities with the other parts in terms of theme, tone and length. All the poems are relatively short, between six and 16 lines long and all focus on an aspect of the narrator's relationship with the "woman" or an experience relating to her. Part 1, for example, describes the woman as a "lamp" giving light and warmth to his life. Part 5 uses another metaphor to describe her, - she is his "field," a "womb of tenderness" where "my seed should stir." In part 3, Curnow focuses on the necessary link between spiritual and physical love and the completeness of his knowledge of her, while in part 6 he expresses the desire not to spoil their happiness or cause her pain with one "destructive word." In this context, the momentary experience captured in the "Song For Her Approach" becomes part of a bigger picture. The woman is not someone he admires from a distance, a romantic idealisation or just a friend as we may have been excused for thinking when reading the poem alone, but she is a real person whom he loves and knows intimately. The sequence as a whole is like a series of snap-shots or a collage of momentary thoughts and feelings about her. The parts are like jigsaw pieces that fit together to make a whole. The fact that Curnow originally published the "Song. . ." under the name of "Julian" rather than his own may suggest that even then he was not comfortable with the poem as it stood on its own. Perhaps he felt then that it was incomplete, a part of something bigger that had not yet eventuated.
The other Tomorrow poem re-published in Enemies was "Orbit," which appeared in both publications in the same year. This was one of only three Tomorrow poems to survive as an independent piece in subsequent publications along with "Restraint" and "Aspect of Monism." It focuses on the inevitability of the passing of time, the way the earth keeps moving around the sun and the way the seasons come and go, indifferent to people who are in state of panic about running out of time and sticking to a strict schedule. It is a poem with its own complete idea, balancing the contrasting images of smooth, steady ongoing cycles of the natural world with the "chaos" of human life. On one hand we have the "season's swing, curve of rejoicing comet" and the sun's "orbit" and on the other we have "distraught people in twitching panic," people who are "machine-maddened" caught up in the work process, spending so much time trying to make money they will not have time to spend.
Curnow must have been happy with the completeness of the poem since he changed almost nothing when it is republished in Enemies. However in line 17 the phrase "splendid pulse" is simplified to "time" and the "heavens" are replaced with "the sun the governor" to make the line sound less grandiose and more secular, fitting to a world whose religion is materialism and whose God is money. No further changes are made when the poem later appears in Collected Poems.
Such a meticulous and thorough approach requires much time and thought. However, amid this "drafting" the demand for material for publication and the desire to express his poetic ideas publicly would still have existed. Although the methodical, even perfectionist Curnow we know today would be uncomfortable about printing anything he did not think was as close to being finished as possible, at this early stage of his career and with a publication such as Tomorrow which served as a trial ground for young, experimenting writers it is more understandable that Curnow would choose to give an "advanced showing" of his developing themes and ideas to the New Zealand literary scene. As Hugh Roberts has said, Curnow "writes brick by brick and invites us to inspect the work at all stages of construction."7 Thus, this initial appearance of "Rats in the Bilge" can be seen as the "early stages" of what was to become "Not in Narrow Seas" two years later.
Originally made up of a "Prelude" and three parts, "Rats in the Bilge" was later renamed parts 1 to 4 with the new "Statement" acting as a more general introduction. The "Statement" places the sequence in context and sets the scene of "Two islands not in narrow seas" as well as establishing a New Zealand audience by referring to the country as "your own". Curnow uses the "Statement" to inform us of the aim of the sequence, that is to "sing your agonies" and to consider the problems with the way New Zealanders see themselves and their country. It is a more appropriate introduction than the original "Prelude" since the latter deals with a more specific issue rather than making a general "mission statement." The "Prelude" looks at the reality of what New Zealanders face in this "new land." It concentrates on the difficulties of hard labour and the meagre reward it reaps. Instead of the great ambition of the early settlers to build a new and wonderful country like England, New Zealanders are left with something not quite so grand, such as the hope for something as small and relatively insignificant as "a radio, perhaps a car." This formal revision thus aims to provide a better structure for the sequence, with a new introduction to prepare us for the specific examples given in later parts.
There are also changes to the text itself. The first letter of each line is capitalised, a practice which becomes standard in all of Curnow's poems after 1939. Punctuation is simplified, with most semi-colons becoming fullstops, and there are vocabulary changes, for example the word "nervous" replaces the poetic-sounding "sea-nerv'd" in part 3, line 1. Then, when the sequence appears in Collected Poems: the word "stablishing" in stanza two, part 3, is modernised to "establishing." These changes all bring the language closer to that of everyday speech, away from a specifically poetic style. This is consistent with the views expressed in Curnow's pamphlet Poetry and Language published in 1935 where he insists that the language of poetry should be the "language spoken by the artist's own generation"8 and that "poetical" language is "quasi-dead." Changes such as these can be seen throughout the "Not in Narrow Seas" sequence and indeed in the other revised Tomorrow poems.
As well as making known his views on poetic language, Curnow has also expressed the belief that a poet's function is to act as a prophet, "to record and interpret the lessons of the past for the warning and encouragement of the present and the future."9 The best way to achieve this goal and to ensure that the message comes across is to use language that is used and easily understood by both reader and poet. In his "Author's Note" to his Collected Poems Curnow suggests that it is a poet's duty to alter his work if he can improve it. "If he does not revise, he is in effect concealing something from the reader some part of his better understanding."10 In terms of the changes we have just seen, the "better understanding" Curnow gains relates to style and language. Although in general he follows his own advice from his Poetry and Language pamphlet in Tomorrow, his re-reading and re-working of the poems enables him to see where changes could be made to bring the language even closer to everyday speech, and to bring him closer to his goal.
There is another small change in form in part 4, where the last stanza is split between its two sentences. This stanza deals specifically with "rats. . . in the dark bilge" of the ships of the "devil's pioneers" and is a direct connection with the name of the Tomorrow sequence, summing up and concluding the tone up to this point. When the name is dropped and further parts are added there is no need for this concluding stanza and it is omitted.
well as these alterations in style and form, italicised prose introductions
are added to each part to provide the reader with a contextual background
against which the poem should be read. Similar introductions had been used
in "The Potter's Field", the other major part of the sequence which was
published two months after "Rats in the Bilge." They provide an explanation
of the poetry and show where the ideas were coming from. Here again Curnow
is not only making the form of the sequence more consistent, but he is
also ensuring that his prophetic voice is heard and understood. The extra
explanation provided by the prose introductions, in language that is even
closer to ordinary speech than the poetry itself, ensures that all readers
receive Curnow's poetic message.
Like "Rats in the Bilge", the first letter of each line is capitalised and punctuation is similarly altered. Capitalised nouns in the text body are reduced to lower case letters lowering the register and removing the old poetic style. The renaming of the "Elder" and "Novice" in Part 9 with the more ordinary titles of the "Teacher" and "Pupil" illustrates Curnow's desire to bring the language of his poetry back to the level of ordinary speech. This can also be seen in what the characters say, for example "That is today's lesson. Move on please" sounds less formal than "that is the lesson for today. Come now." Similarly, words are colloquialised with "madmen" becoming "loonies" and "receiving" being replaced with "getting." In the teacher's last speech, when talking about the "poorer suburbs" the last two lines are replaced with others that are less dramatic sounding and literal rather than metaphorical. The new version talks about parts of everyday life like "refuse heaps" and "contractors" rather than abstract qualities like "strength and wit" being "blown about the streets" and being "paid in dividends to better men."
In part 10 of "The Potter's Field" the first three stanzas form a kind of mock prayer to tourists, asking them to come and "save" New Zealanders by spending their tourist dollars here. They are bitingly satirical and indeed more suited to "Julian," to whom the Tomorrow poem is attributed, than Curnow, the more subtle critic. Perhaps for this reason, and for reasons of conciseness these stanzas are omitted in subsequent publications. The five-line stanza that begins "Prosper our publicity, O lord," is also omitted in "Not in Narrow Seas" and is replaced with a short two-line exclamation:
O lord, O lord, lord, O lordLike the other omissions, the original stanza is also in the style of a mock prayer. In its changed form it parallels the two-line exclamation in the last stanza that begins "Spirit O spirit..." and creates a certain formal balance within the poem. Again we see how Curnow's "better understanding" has allowed him to see where subtle changes can be made to polish the poem in terms of form and style.
When the poem reappears in the 1973 Collected Poems, part 11 undergoes another small change. In stanza 2 the lines "O God tell me its beautiful / (Pity our littleness)" are replaced with the less desperate sounding and more subtle suggestion, "Let us discuss beauty / And various scenic attractions." Again Curnow alters the tone to create a more subtle criticism of the exploitation of New Zealand's scenic beauty and avoids the ironic sarcasm that is more characteristic of his pseudonym.
There are also a number of changes in the prose introductions, which tend to tighten the style and grammar and put across Curnow's ideas more clearly. Single words and whole phrases are omitted, replaced or inserted in order to capture the context more accurately. For example, in part 9 the "fight fought in the past" is more specifically expressed as "the fight for liberty," the extra detail showing Curnow's desire to put across his ideas as clearly as possible. Similarly, in part 10, the assertion that "the new country is nothing more than a flattery of the old" is given new meaning when Curnow replaces the middle phrase. By saying that "the new country must be aware of the dangerous extent to which is it only a flattery" he is again emphasising one of the central ideas of the sequence, the idea that New Zealanders are pretending to be what they are not and lack true self-knowledge. Again, as in the poetry, we see how Curnow's subtle revisions convey ideas that are closer to what he really wants to say. In part 6, Curnow considers the way the Church is "establishing" England's social order in New Zealand, but he later revises it to show how it is "conserving" social order as well, capturing in the addition of one word the way English society has been transported and imposed onto New Zealand. It is notable that the prose revisions are all consistent with those we have seen in the poetry. The alterations provide more evidence of Curnow's methodical and careful style.
In October 1937, "Variations on a Theme" was published in Tomorrow quite unconnected with the poems of "Rats in the Bilge" or "The Potter's Field." However it is later added to the "Not in Narrow Seas" sequence where it appears as the "Epilogue." The "theme" suggested in the original title comes from the poetry of William Blake. The poem "interweaves Curnow's own verse with lines from Blake's 'My silks and fine array...' from the 1783 Poetical Sketches."11 However the theme is not, as we might expect, the hope and pride of the building of a new "Jerusalem" in New Zealand, but rather a despairing disillusionment with the failure of a dream and the destruction of English expectations. As Alan Roddick has said, the intentional omission of the expected theme "serve[s] to underline Jerusalem's absence in Curnow's view from New Zealand's 'green and pleasant land.'"12
Although originally written to stand on its own, the poem nevertheless fits well into the "Not in Narrow Seas" sequence. Its tone of dejection and disillusionment is not unlike the "downbeat disappointment"13 that dominates the rest of the sequence. The reality of the New Zealand situation with its "insolent country" and "James Cook Pig[s]" is set ironically against the English expectations - "with an English accent/How shall I be afraid?" This technique of criticising or destroying the New Zealand myth is also common to the rest of the sequence where, according to Stuart Murray, the "historical significance of the colonising process is contextualised and challenged by the parties that the process encounters."14
When inserted into the "Not in Narrow Seas" sequence the poem is renamed "[Epilogue] (A Theme By William Blake,)" making it more clear that the theme is Blake's and ensuring that his intended ironic effects are achieved. There are a few other small changes in punctuation such as the addition of a semi-colon (line 1) and a couple of commas (line 2 and 10) to tighten the grammar and the long last stanza is split in two for a more regular form. The word "burial" in line 15 is replaced with "funeral" perhaps because it is a more "suburban" and "European-sounding" word, and as such it fits the tone of the poem better. Similarly in line 16, the word "slouch" becomes "drag" suggesting an even more intense reluctance to attend the funeral. Even these slight changes seem to add polish and tightness to the poem, and reflect Curnow's careful scrutinising style. We see again how Curnow's ability to us and manipulate the language improves with experience as he is able to find new, more appropriate words to express what he is thinking.
The poem works well in the "Not in Narrow Seas" sequence, but Curnow is still not satisfied, as we see when the title is changed again in his 1973 Collected Poems. The subtitle with its reference to Blake is omitted but the lines from Blake's poem are italicised to differentiate them from Curnow's own. It appears that Curnow may have thought he had gone too far in directly referring to Blake and decided to take a step backwards towards a more subtle effect. This interpretation would be consistent with some of the other revisions we have seen where Curnow chooses a simple and subtle style over a more obvious or overt statement, while still maintaining clarity of voice.
Like "Variations on a Theme," "A Loyal Show" appears as an independent poem in Tomorrow in 1938 and is also later incorporated into "Not in Narrow Seas." However, the four stanza poem is not added as a complete part in itself but as an opening for a pre-existing poem: part 9 of "The Potter's Field." The 1938 poem paints the New Zealand experience as a play being acted out on stage. The play metaphor suggests that trying to create a new England and acting as English people do is just pretence. He says that New Zealanders are acting out a role but not being who they really are. In New Zealand "the old, old gags [of England] recur" but they are being read from a "greasy script" and they are not our own.
suggests that it is merely "imitation of the old."
two parts of the poem are well suited and work so well together that there
are few ways to tell where one ends and the other begins other than to
look for the change in verse form, where four-line stanzas become three.
Curnow was clearly happy with the way the two came together since no further
changes were made to the body of the text, in either "Not in Narrow Seas"
or in subsequent publication in the Collected Poems. Many poets
would have refrained from joining the two parts and viewed them as separate
poems, albeit with similar tones and themes, since they were composed apart
from one another in time. However Curnow holds the belief that the time
lapse between the writing of the two parts does not necessarily render
them as separate and individual. "It's possible," he has said, "that a
poem which was actually on its way - that it doesn't get finished, perhaps
not even started because the poet was out of sorts or simply work-shy."15
In an interview with Harry Ricketts, Curnow admits that his poems take
him "really enormous pains. I simply have to resign myself to living with
a poem day and night for a matter of some weeks and even then - even then
- after a heap of drafts and discards and God knows what, it may not be
quite what I'm after."16 It may have
taken Curnow quite some time to consider the way this poem should develop
and by tossing around ideas and combining similar thoughts he seems to
have finally brought the poem to fruition. "It's amazing how much a poem
can support," Curnow has said, "if you trust it and keep it in your head."17
The "Not in Narrow Seas" sequence as a whole can thus be seen as a culmination of ideas on theme or subject matter, style and form. The way that Curnow brings together a range of poems all of which appear initially in Tomorrow, shows the kind of poet he is - one who takes much time and effort in writing and rewriting his poetry. As Terry Sturm has said, Curnow recognises that "the impulse to write a poem is not necessarily sufficient to make a poem, and that the first thoughts are not necessarily the best thoughts."19 Curnow himself has characterised the process of writing poetry or putting such a sequence together as being "like a search. I know the poems are in there somewhere."20 It may have taken some years but "Not in Narrow Seas" can be seen as the result of deep consideration of serious issues such as what New Zealand and New Zealand poetry are and should be. It is the beginning of the Nationalist, public poetry of the 1940's for which Curnow is so well recognised.
Thus in considering the surviving poems from Curnow's Tomorrow years a pattern has emerged. All but one of the nine poems later become part of a sequence, like "Not in Narrow Seas" or "A Woman in Mind," or a small grouping like "Three Poems." Within these groups of poems, Curnow is able to develop his themes and ideas further by connecting smaller pieces of them together. In doing so he is able to portray the whole picture, which may not have been so easy in a single poem at this early stage of his career. As a young poet his ideas and views on poetry were only just developing and they seem to have come to him in stages over a number of years. Curnow experimented with them in shorter pieces, as we have seen him doing in Tomorrow, until he was finally ready to use them to their full potential in forms such as the sequence "Not in Narrow Seas." As well as the emergence of this pattern, we also see in Curnow's revisions his careful and scrutinising style of writing, making sure that his language met his own specifically New Zealand standards and ensuring that his themes were put across as clearly and simply as possible. Having said this, although they may not be as widely known or as popular as some of Curnow's later work, even his poems from the 1930s exhibit the clarity, consideredness and authority of voice for which Curnow is admired.
1. Curnow, Allen. "Rats in the Bilge." Tomorrow 3 (1937): 496.
"Variations on a Theme." Tomorrow 3 (1937): 774
---. "Predestination." Tomorrow 4 (1938): 665.
---. "A Loyal Show." Tomorrow 4 (1938): 685.
"The Potter's Field." Tomorrow 3 (1937): 628.
2. Julian. "Song for her Approach." Tomorrow 1.32 (1935): 3.
"Orbit." Tomorrow 3 (1937): 188.
3. Julian. "Restraint." Tomorrow 1.36 (1935): 3.
---. "Aspect of Monism." Tomorrow 1.38 (1935): 13.
Curnow, Allen. Three Poems: Aspects of Monism, Restraint, The Wilderness. Christchurch, Caxton Club P, 1935.
4. ---. Collected Poems, 1933-1973. Wellington: Reed, 1974.
Secondary Sources: 1. Curnow's Views
Curnow, Allen. A Job For Poetry: Notes on an Impulse. "Look Back Harder: Critical Writings 1935-1984." Ed. Peter Simpson. Auckland: Auckland UP, 1987. 24-5.
---. Distraction and Definition: Centripetal Directions in New Zealand Poetry. "National Identity." Ed. K. L. Goodwin. Melbourne: Heinemann Educational Books, 1970. 170-86. (Also in Look Back Harder: Critical Writings 1935-1984. 213-229. )
---. Foreword. "Valley of Decision: Poems." Auckland: Auckland U College Students' Assoc P, 1933.
---. Introduction. "A Book of New Zealand Verse 1923-45." Christchurch: Caxton P, 1945. 13-55. (Also in Look Back Harder: Critical Writings 1935-1984. 42-75. )
---. Introduction . "Collected Poems, 1933-1973." Wellington: Reed, 1974. (Also in Look Back Harder: Critical Writings 1935-1984. 243-44. )
---. New Zealand Literature: The Case for a Working Definition. "The Future of New Zealand." Ed. M. F. Lloyd Pritchard. Auckland: Auckland UP, 1964. 84-107. (Also in Look Back Harder: Critical Writings 1935-1984. 191-208. )
---. Poetry and Language. Christchurch: Caxton Club Press, 1935. (Also in Look Back Harder: Critical Writings 1935-1984. 1-5. )
---. "Prophets of Their Time: Some Modern Poets." The Press, Christchurch. 20 January, 1940. 14. (Also in Look Back Harder: Critical Writings 1935-1984. 13-19. )
Jackson, MacDonald P. "Conversation with Allen Curnow". Islands 2. 2 (1973): 142-62. (Also in Look Back Harder: Critical Writings 1935-1984. 245-265. )
Ricketts, Harry. Talking About Ourselves: Twelve New Zealand Poets in Conversation with Harry Ricketts. Wellington: Mallinson Rendel, 1986. 94-105.
Simpson, Peter. Allen Curnow. "In the Same Room: Conversations with New Zealand Writers." Ed. Elizabeth Alley and Mark Williams. Auckland: Auckland UP, 1992. 78-98.
2. Views of Other Critics
Booth, Pat. "Cover Story: Our Living Treasures: Allen Curnow." North and South (1990): 84.
Steve. "Sweating Poesy." Metro 178 (1996): 78-80.
Johnston, Andrew. "Entertaining Possibilities: Six Contemporary New Zealand Poets." Meanjin 51.3 (1992): 641-52.
Murray, Stuart. "Writing an Islands Story: The 1930's Poetry of Allen Curnow." Journal of Commonwealth Literature 30.2 (1995): 25-43.
J. G. A. "Instant History: Allen Curnow in Christchurch." London Magazine
31.9,10 (1991/92): 44-52.
Roberts, Hugh. "Accurate Misquotation: a Blast from the Present: An Appreciation of Allen Curnow." New Zealand Books 6.1 (1996): 1, 4-5.
Roddick, Alan. New Zealand Writers and their Work: Allen Curnow. Wellington: Oxford UP, 1990.
Stead, C. K. Allen Curnow's Poetry: Notes Towards a Criticism. "Essays on New Zealand Literature." Ed. Wysten Curnow. Auckland: Heinemann Educational Books, 1973. 54-70.
"Fear of Flying." Metro 118 (1991): 128-131.
9 Curnow, Allen. "Prophets of Their Time: Some Modern Poets." The Press, Christchurch. 20 January, 1940. 14. (Also in Look Back Harder: Critical Writings 1935-1984. Ed. Peter Simpson. [Auckland: Auckland UP, 1987.] Page 13. )