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Nicely Combed

Matthew Reynolds: Ungaretti, 4 December 2003

Selected Poems 
by Giuseppe Ungaretti, translated by Andrew Frisardi.
Carcanet, 287 pp., £14.95, April 2003, 1 85754 672 5
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... subjected to minute examination. In this respect, his nearest counterpart in English is perhaps Christina Rossetti, herself bilingual. Like hers, his crystalline poems often emerged from a process of cutting; in his work, as in hers, the placing of words has an almost pictorial suggestiveness. When he began composing poetry soon after the outbreak of ...

Is everybody’s life like this?

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Amy Levy, 16 November 2000

Amy Levy: Her Life and Letters 
by Linda Hunt Beckman.
Ohio, 331 pp., £49, May 2000, 0 8214 1329 5
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... of female melancholy that descends from Letitia Landon and Felicia Hemans to Barrett Browning and Christina Rossetti. She also looks, understandably, for the personal origins of Levy’s despair, while acknowledging that many of the facts in the case remain elusive. After a century in private hands, Levy’s manuscripts and letters became accessible to ...

Always the Bridesmaid

Terry Castle: Sappho, 30 September 1999

Victorian Sappho 
by Yopie Prins.
Princeton, 278 pp., £40, May 1999, 0 691 05918 7
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... Felicia Hemans (1793-1835), Letitia Elizabeth Landon (1802-38), Caroline Norton (1808-77), Christina Rossetti (1830-94) and Mary Cowden Clarke (1809-98), are hardly as daring but equally morbid. Lesbianism (nice or nasty) be damned – they ‘remember’ Sappho solely as the maundering, soul-baffled lover of Phaon. This, for Prins, is the most ...

We shall not be moved

John Bayley, 2 February 1984

Come aboard and sail away 
by John Fuller.
Salamander, 48 pp., £6, October 1983, 0 907540 37 6
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Children in Exile 
by James Fenton.
Salamander, 24 pp., £5, October 1983, 0 907540 39 2
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‘The Memory of War’ and ‘Children in Exile’: Poems 1968-1983 
by James Fenton.
Penguin, 110 pp., £1.95, October 1983, 0 14 006812 0
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Some Contemporary Poets of Britain and Ireland: An Anthology 
edited by Michael Schmidt.
Carcanet, 184 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 0 85635 469 4
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Nights in the Iron Hotel 
by Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 48 pp., £4, November 1983, 0 571 13116 6
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The Irish Lights 
by Charles Johnston and Kyril Fitzlyon.
Bodley Head, 77 pp., £4.50, September 1983, 0 370 30557 4
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Fifteen to Infinity 
by Ruth Fainlight.
Hutchinson, 62 pp., £5.95, September 1983, 0 09 152471 7
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Donald Davie and the Responsibilities of Literature 
edited by George Dekker.
Carcanet, 153 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 9780856354663
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... in Ruth Fainlight. In a tradition various enough to include Emily Dickinson, Mary Coleridge, Christina Rossetti and Charlotte Mew, her poetry gets on with itself, not self-absorbed but quite independent. Men poets, it makes one feel, get together too much, have too much of an eye for each other’s points and failings; and women have not shared in ...

Gurney’s Flood

Donald Davie, 3 February 1983

Geoffrey Grigson: Collected Poems 1963-1980 
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 419 4Show More
The Cornish Dancer 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 64 pp., £4.95, June 1982, 0 436 18805 8
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 420 8
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses: A Critical Collection 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 437 2
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Collected Poems of Ivor Gurney 
edited by P.J. Kavanagh.
Oxford, 284 pp., £12, September 1982, 0 19 211940 0
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War Letters 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by R.K.R. Thornton.
Mid-Northumberland Arts Group/Carcanet, 271 pp., £12, February 1983, 0 85635 408 2
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... is so honourable as his exertions on behalf of dead poets unjustly neglected: Smart, Clare, Christina Rossetti and (late, but significantly) Gurney. He has, I think, every right to complain that other men of letters have less consistently reviewed the canon, so as to revise it continually – which is the only way to keep it alive. To be sure, on ...

Long Runs

Adam Phillips: A.E. Housman, 18 June 1998

The Poems of A.E. Housman 
edited by Archie Burnett.
Oxford, 580 pp., £80, December 1997, 0 19 812322 1
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The Invention of Love 
by Tom Stoppard.
Faber, 106 pp., £6.99, October 1997, 0 571 19271 8
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... born in: Arnold, as one would expect, given Housman’s lifelong admiration for him, but Tennyson, Christina Rossetti and Swinburne all find their way into his always unostentatiously allusive lyrics. It is also interesting to discover, in a life devoted, as it were, to pagans, Housman’s unbelieving devotion to the Bible. When John Sparrow sent him a ...

But she read Freud

Alice Spawls: Flora Thompson, 19 February 2015

Dreams of the Good Life: The Life of Flora Thompson and the Creation of ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’ 
by Richard Mabey.
Allen Lane, 208 pp., £9.99, March 2015, 978 0 14 104481 1
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... or home away from home, to the Hilltop set, a group that included Conan Doyle, Shaw, Tennyson and Christina Rossetti. The town was modern, fashionably suburban and connected by a new railway line to London, just close enough for something of fashion and suggestions of sex. Richard Le Gallienne, one of Aubrey Beardsley’s friends, ‘raced about the ...

Faithful in the Dusk

Adam Mars-Jones: Tessa Hadley, 15 August 2019

Late in the Day 
by Tessa Hadley.
Cape, 281 pp., £16.99, February 2019, 978 1 78733 111 2
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... Lydia is less intellectual and academic: she did bar work while Christine worked towards a PhD (on Christina Rossetti). When the two of them were roommates she read as constantly as Christine, surrendering to narrative but still somehow capricious: ‘she closed the books mostly without comment, or with a snap judgment uttered with finality: dull, or ...

A Whack of Pies

Matthew Bevis: Dear to Mew, 16 December 2021

This Rare Spirit: A Life of Charlotte Mew 
by Julia Copus.
Faber, 464 pp., £25, April 2021, 978 0 571 31353 2
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Selected Poetry and Prose 
by Charlotte Mew, edited by Julia Copus.
Faber, 176 pp., £14.99, October 2019, 978 0 571 31618 2
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... you could almost drink/To know how jewels taste’. She has sometimes been read as a latter-day Christina Rossetti, but attempts to place her in this lineage are a little strained, and in her poetry the word ‘heaven’ always arrives with a sense of let-down. The only thing Mew wants to be everlasting is transience; angels envy mortals rather than ...

One of the Cracked

Dinah Birch: Barbara Bodichon, 1 October 1998

Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon: Feminist, Artist and Rebel 
by Pam Hirsch.
Chatto, 390 pp., £20, July 1998, 0 7011 6797 1
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... from organised religion. ‘Ah! If you were only like Miss Barbara Smith!’ Dante Gabriel Rossetti wrote to his pious and retiring sister Christina. She must have shuddered at the thought. Ironically, however, Barbara owed her extraordinary confidence and energy to her father. Bessie Parkes, her lifelong ...

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