James Greene

James Greene is the author of a collection of poems, Dead-Man’s Fall, and a translator of the poetry of Mandelstam, Fet and Olav Hauge.

Poem: ‘No Man’s Land’

James Greene, 29 September 1988

At the seaside dazed by the sun And its tremendous symphony, Strangers are friends. Families Under the cliffs uncover navels, Amorous bumps, far-fetched clefts; And the kids squeal with terror, Their ball kidnapped by a wave.

If only at the graveside we could Ungrit our teeth, weeping buckets, Our family might feel Less estranged: drunk on grief And memories of a great-aunt And her long black...

Poem: ‘Berlin, 1930s’

James Greene, 4 April 1985

Men in white on ladders Scale the walls, then pose on planks, Staring straight ahead as if they’re peeing; All afternoon hands juggle.

Then, bottoms bulging out of overalls, descend, To admire their dizzy handiwork. No wonder Hitler gave this up For something more dazzling:

Blond clowns parade or somersault like tanks, Brown flags and bunting flap like bandages, To make the grown-up...

SIR: Unlike Edward Mendelson (Letters, 5 June) I have not seen Auden’s ‘private journal’ – an epithet now redundant, it would seem – but Layard’s own account of his attempted suicide does not tally in all respects with Auden’s. Layard’s version is more damaging to himself. According to him, he was not ‘encouraged’ (by Auden) to ‘share the boy’s favours’, nor did Auden depart...

I am them

Richard Wollheim, 7 October 1993

J.-B. Pontalis is a Parisian intellectual de pur sang. Born into a wealthy upper-middle-class family, he was brought up in Neuilly, and, as a child, spent long summers at a family house in...

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Wild Horses

Claude Rawson, 1 April 1983

The Bronze Horseman of Pushkin’s famous poem is Falconet’s equestrian statue of Peter the Great in St Petersburg. It was ordered by Catherine the Great (Petro primo Catharina...

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