The Old Mine of Rhyme

Rhyme is no longer, to be sure, universally despised as a kind of correctional institution for the English soul; it is more like an old mine, abandoned as unprofitable long ago and now remembered only by the nostalgic townsfolk and the odd curious visitor from abroad who wants to trace his family’s roots to their humble beginnings during a summer holiday. The ‘progressive’ critical community regards it as a sad anachronism blighting the landscape: willing as its members are to tolerate the occasional enthusiast, they are not about to welcome the conversion of this redundant enterprise into a going concern. Yet rhyme is not only the spirit of Pasternak, it is his letter.

Agree or not, it’s one of several striking images in the (polemical) introduction by Andrei Navrozov to his translation of Pasternak poems, Second Nature (Peter Owen Publishers, 1990).

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