Laura (Riding) Jackson

Laura (Riding) Jackson’s four essays are taken from a sequence of 11, themselves part of ‘From a Notebook of Essays-in-Little’. Both the essays and the poem are previously unpublished.

The Promise of Words

Laura (Riding) Jackson, 7 September 1995

There are at least two words ‘poetry’, one meaning linguistic activity of a certain kind, the other meaning verbal matter produced by such activity. I speak in this little essay of what it is that poets are doing and what their activity amounts to in the scales of human behaviour, rather than of poetry the verbal matter – although I may be drawn into making incidental...

Poem: ‘In Gratuitous Witness’

Laura (Riding) Jackson, 7 September 1995

After I had long nursed a faithIn the promise on which poetry has thrived –The recalled promise of languageAt its careful rising in mindsTo teach all, little by little,Until life and speech are one,Union of being with itself,Of knowledge with the known,Instantaneity consumingThe separating silence heard as ‘time’,The beat, beat, of not-yet, not-yet –Suddenly I saw,...

SIR: I have been sent, by a friend, a copy of the composite review by Paul Delany (LRB, 3 February) of the book on Graves, and of the Selected Letters published relatedly to that, and of my book of early stories in a new edition, Progress of Stories; and I have considered writing something for the interest of your readers on the actual tendentious disposition underlying your reviewer’s effort to...

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