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Clive Wilmer

Clive Wilmer has published five collections of poetry, the most recent of which is The Falls.

All I can do is take you to the edge And throw a belvedere Out on the void, fenced in with cabled steel, So there is nothing which you need to fear – As fear you will, Like somebody marooned on a rock ledge.

This is what builders do: compose a space For you to live inside And be in body. They can give no more Than wood or concrete, stone or brick provide. All else they ignore, Except to...

On the Turn

Clive Wilmer, 22 June 2000

Poets whose work has a kinship with that Ezra Pound are likely to be ignored. This is the case with the American poet John Peck, who, now in his late fifties, with a massive and challenging achievement behind him and the devotion of an active British publisher, is unknown not only to general readers but to those who think they know about modern poetry. To be strictly accurate, Peck is not a card-carrying Poundian – such poets tend to be tiresome – but there are several points of convergence. He resembles Pound in the quality of attention that is present in his sensuous evocations; particulars are delectably rendered in their otherness and, as in Pound, are sometimes clues to the larger order of things. Like Pound, he is fascinated by those activities that suggest dialogues between matter and consciousness – stone-carving, clay-moulding, carpentry and other crafts. He shares Pound’s enthusiasm for a wide range of languages and cultures and has memorably translated in the Poundian manner. In particular, he has a keen interest in Chinese poetry and thought, which have probably made an even more profound impression on his work than they did on Pound’s. (His third book, Poems and Translations of Hi-Lö, is in spite of its title an original work which purports to have been written by a Chinese medical student living in Zurich, where Peck was studying at the time.) Perhaps his greatest debt to Pound is a mastery of the singing line that seems to owe little to formal prosody, though many of his poems are written in orthodox metres.’

Poem: ‘The Earth Rising’

Clive Wilmer, 23 October 1986

The men who first set foot on the bleached waste That is the moon saw rising near in space A planetary oasis that surpassed The homesick longings of their voyaging race:

Emerald and ultramarine through a white haze Like a torn veil – as if no sand or dust Or stain of spilt blood or invading rust Corrupted it with reds, browns, yellows, greys.

So visionaries have seen it: to design...

Two Poems

Clive Wilmer, 5 June 1986

Post-War Childhoods

For Takeshi Kusafuka

If there were no affliction in this world we might think we were in paradise.

Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace

You, born in Tokyo In nineteen forty-four, Knew the simplicity Occasioned by a war. In London it was so Even in victory – In defeat, how much more.

Knew it I say – and yet, Born to it, you and I, How could we in truth have...

Poem: ‘After Pavese’

Clive Wilmer, 16 April 1981

The lone man hearkens to the calm voice, His expression ajar – as if the draught On his face were a breath, a friendly breath, Returning, beyond belief, from time gone by.

The lone man hearkens to the ancient voice His fathers throughout the ages have heard, clear And composed, a voice that much like the green Of the pools and hills deepens at evening.

The lone man knows a voice of...

Letter

Undesirable

9 May 1996

If Tom Paulin is in need of more attention (Letters, 6 June), I am happy to oblige. I shall proceed by way of analogy. In Graham Greene’s novel Brighton Rock, published as late as 1938, the mobsters who run the Brighton underworld are Jewish, their behaviour and physical features described with Eliotesque repugnance. Around 1960 all this changed. No revised edition was officially published but...
Letter

Their Witness

27 February 1992

In dismissing my view of the Hughes/Csokits versions of Janos Pilinszky (Letters, 11 June), Daniel Weissbort appears to identify it with what he describes as ‘mimetic translation in which the reproduction of the original metre and rhyme pattern is taken to be a sine qua non of responsible translation’. As Weissbort must be aware, since he has published several of my translations, this is...
Letter

Vendlerising

2 April 1987

SIR: A question for your readers. What do the following poets have in common: R.L. Barth, Edgar Bowers, J.V. Cunningham, Janet Lewis, N. Scott Momaday, John Peck, Timothy Steele and Alan Stephens? I can think of four answers. All of them have spent at least part of their lives in California. All of them at one time or another have been nourished on the poetry and teaching of Yvor Winters. All of them...

György Petri

August Kleinzahler, 19 July 2001

György Petri (or Petri György, as he would have been called in Hungary) was born in Budapest in 1943 to a family with a Serbian and Jewish background. A year after Petri’s birth,...

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Cambridge Theatre

Donald Davie, 19 August 1982

Sue Lenier’s poems occupy 70 closely printed pages, of which I have read – the things I do for LRB! – 50 or so. If ‘read’ is the word for what one does, or can do,...

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