Colin Burrow

Colin Burrow is a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He is the author of Shakespeare and Classical Antiquity and Imitating Authors: Plato to Futurity and has edited the poems of Ben Jonson and Shakespeare, as well as the Penguin anthology of Metaphysical Poetry. His first piece for the LRB, in 1999, was on British and Irish poetry of the Civil War; he has since written more than seventy pieces for the paper, on everything from contemporary poetry to the classics.

Puppeteer Poet: Pope’s Luck

Colin Burrow, 21 April 2022

‘Pope has had bad luck,’ F.R. Leavis once declared. It’s true that his reputation suffered a big dip in the 19th century, but otherwise he did pretty well for himself, all things considered. He was only four foot six and suffered from curvature of the spine in an age when physical disabilities were often taken to imply moral deformity. He was a Catholic during years in which...

Song of Snogs: Catullus Bound

Colin Burrow, 2 December 2021

Catullus was a master of many kinds of oral delight. The real challenge in translating him is to capture the pleasure and the delicacy that exists alongside the frank and direct filth.

Ti tum ti tum ti tum: Chic Sport Shirker

Colin Burrow, 7 October 2021

The fact that the letters of the word ‘critic’ are all present and in the correct order within ‘Christopher Ricks’ is a wonderful coincidence that might make you think that he was born, or at least baptised, to do what he does so well. However it is an arbitrary and probably uninteresting coincidence that a full anagram of ‘Christopher Ricks’ is ‘chic sport shirker’, since Ricks isn’t so far as I know famous for skiving games while sporting a Versace tracksuit.

The Terrifying Vrooom: Empsonising

Colin Burrow, 15 July 2021

In​ Jill Paton Walsh’s novel Goldengrove (1972), set shortly after the Second World War, the adolescent heroine, Madge, goes on holiday to Cornwall. She falls a little in love with a professor of English literature who has been blinded in action, and reads aloud to him. One of the passages he has her recite is an analysis of Donne’s ‘A Valediction: Of Weeping’:

Weep me...

On Fiona Benson

Colin Burrow, 17 June 2021

Atypical poem​ in Fiona Benson’s first collection, Bright Travellers (2014), begins with a description of a hare:

              There’s a leveret in the field.I know it by its mother’s haunt at dusk,can sense the cupped space of its watch              over near the gorse.

The young hare is just a space...

Don’t break that fiddle: Eclectic Imitators

Tobias Gregory, 19 November 2020

The boundary between the broader and narrower senses has never been firm, and the history of literary imitation has always been bound up with the histories of philosophy, rhetoric and education. Plato,...

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I must needs acknowledge, that the Greeke and Latine tongues, are great ornaments in a Gentleman, but they are purchased at over-high rate. Montaigne, Essays I grew up​ in postwar...

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Mr Who He? Shakespeare’s Poems

Stephen Orgel, 8 August 2002

In his own time, Shakespeare was much better known to the reading public as a poet than as a playwright. Venus and Adonis went through ten editions before his death in 1616, and another six...

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