Grigson's fierce polemic obviously made difficulties for the easy acceptance of his own work, for as well as his essays and articles, compelling and convincing though they often are, Grigson was a poet of considerable thoughtfulness and colour in his own right, publishing thirteen volumes of work from 'Several Observations' in 1939 to the posthumous 'Persephone's Flowers' in 1986. His poems are at once modern in idiom yet open up like a hall-of-mirrors to show his direct connexion with the best of the past.


There is nothing flashy or self-indulgent about Grigson's poetry, and nothing self-consciously trendy (after the 1930s, at least, when, in his words, 'decadence called, in the wake of major talents, for a destruction or an avoidance of conventional harmonies, line units and shapes', which decadence we should applaud, as Grigson was instrumental in creating the taste for the major talents of the Auden generation). The freshness of his construction, the lines that effortlessly draw you in and down the page 'express the oldness of the English scene' as much as the Elm trees he is describing in that line, while being firmly of our century. Grigson was raised in Cornwall, and after a period in London moved to Broad Town in North Wiltshire, where he lived until his death in 1985. And like another Cornishman who lived long in Wiltshire, the composer Sir Michael Tippett (born in the same year as Grigson, 1905), his works are marked by this reconciling of the present with the past: not a sentimental nostalgia, but equally not abandoning what can be learned from the past out of misguided modernism for its own sake.