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CELEBRATING JOHN ASHBERY Contributors include Mark Ford, Marina Warner, Jeremy Over, Theophilus Kwek, Sam Riviere, Luke Kennard, Philip Terry,Agnes Lehoczky, Emily Critchley, Oli Hazard and others
Miles Champion The Gold Standard
Rebecca Watts The Cult of the Noble Amateur
Marina Tsvetaeva ‘My desire has the features of a woman’: Two Letters translated by Christopher Whyte
Iain Bamforth Black and White
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Journal Entry, 9 January 2007
Much twilight these days, and filled with wind. Rain often. The sense one has had for many years that the seasons will come round has been, I realise, one of the foundations of certainty. And it has gone. They don’t necessarily have to. There might soon be a year without a winter. A great storm could come at any moment.
I put the Tin Chicken in the front bedroom window this morning so she can watch out, see the three horses in the field opposite, wearing their coats, eating into their massive pile of hay, standing glum. Most of the time a horse in a field looks glum. They are heavy-headed creatures without much to do and probably they are not even thinking much. Just enduring. Then, it seems quickly afterwards, I bring the Tin Chicken back inside and stand her on top of the pile of books on the bookcase so she can look at the room, legs braced, sharp-headed, holding her flower and her basket. I decided when I bought her in Eye last year that I would treat her frankly as a transitional object, give her a repertoire and pass with her the time of day. That much seems to help, out here in the country in the midst of weather. Already, because I always stand her on the same small pill box, so she has some elevation on the windowsill, and that pill box is always on the same paperback of Montet’s Eternal Egypt
, she carries with her
As I have walk’d in Alabama my morning walk,
I have seen where the she-bird the mocking-bird sat on her
nest in the briers hatching her brood.
I have seen the he-bird also,
I have paus’d to hear him near at hand inflating his throat
and joyfully singing.
And while I paus’d it came to me that what he really sang for
was not there only,
Nor for his mate nor himself only, nor all sent back by the
But subtle, clandestine, away beyond,
A charge transmitted and gift occult for those being born.
Walt Whitman, ‘Starting Out from Paumanock’
The first time I met Jennifer Crandall, we were in a coffee shop in downtown San Francisco, surrounded by moustachioed baristas and twenty-year-old start-up
after the German of Marie Luise Kaschnitz
When at the turn of the year over the beaten down continent,
the homeland of turmoil, of brotherly hatred, of insurgency, of sin,
the homeland of bold thoughts, of burning words, of beauty,
when at the turn of the year the bells ring out, bells that have come home,
have been heaved to the top of failing towers
the great bells –
when the high foehn-driven water roars to fill the space under bridges,
when the trains pipe up and the ships sound their bustling sirens,
when the unknown voice calls Happy New Year
up to the silent window,
Selected from the Archive...
A Lyric Voice at Bay
Critics work in a text. Biographers work in the foreground and the background. And the critic's work is made much harder when the background has been overwritten by events, interpretations and frank and forgetful prejudice. At that point the critic has to do some double-jobbing in order to rescue the text from the biographical background and the reader's resistance.
Albert Gelpi has set himself a hard task.1
Cecil Day Lewis, at least at first glance, is a decidedly awkward subject. Before reading this book I would have said Day Lewis was a refugee from the 1930s: and Anglo-Irish Georgian, who admired Tom Moore and consorted with Auden. A gentlemanly Communist. A hopelessly lyric inhabitant of a hard-driving decade. A poet who didn't so much lose his identity as have it handed to him in fragments: national, poetic,