Allen Curnow

(2141 words)
  • Mark Williams (Victoria University of Wellington)

In 1941 Allen Curnow published a poem about the effect of Canterbury's wild winds on the iron roofs of settler houses and sheds. Rather like W.H. Auden's “Night Mail” (1935), “Wild Iron” is a poem delighting in the sounds its subject generates. But it is also a poem about the effects of place on the mind (“Thoughts go wild, wild with the sound/Of iron on the old shed swinging, clanging”). This is a subject close to the centre of Curnow's concerns throughout an extraordinarily long and rich career in poetry, from early work where place torments and excites consciousness with its difference from the world where language and thought once had their home, to the late work where the observed world “looks …

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Williams, Mark. "Allen Curnow". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 22 January 2003
[, accessed 27 November 2015.]