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In the Pinnacles Desert

Charles Causley, 2 February 1984

... South of Cervantes, Thirsty Point, wedges Of capstone galling the track, drumming the gut Of the four-wheel drive, we cross a sabre-cut In the scrub. The Namban River, I read. Flows only in winter, ending in a swamp Near the coast. I raise my eyes. Beyond ridges Of sand, fine Chinese white, a mess of shell- Grit, frosted with salt, the sea unrolling Bolts of long water, and its great bell tolling Across the Pinnacles, goliath-high, Facing every which-way ...

Death of a Poet

Bill Manhire: Poem, 18 December 2003

... i.m. Charles Causley Between the Tamar and the tarmac, Beneath a tangled sky, I saw the Cornish poet Walking by. He went where wind and water Will not be overthrown, Where light and water meet Boscastle stone. It was a day in deep November When the cold came. The cold sky squandered Inside his brain. Who knocks at Cyprus Well? Who knocks again, again? ‘I think it is the visitor We must not name ...

Prize Poems

Donald Davie, 1 July 1982

Arvon Foundation Poetry Competion: 1980 Anthology 
by Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney.
Kilnhurst Publishing Company, 173 pp., £3, April 1982, 9780950807805
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Burn this 
by Tom Disch.
Hutchinson, 63 pp., £7.50, April 1982, 0 09 146960 0
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... on me.’ What on earth were they looking for – Ted Hughes and Philip Larkin, Seamus Heaney and Charles Causley – that they should have rated Bosley’s heart-warming dexterity (feelingful as well as formal) below, for instance, 18 solid unpunctuated pages of pornographic daydream: Kenneth Bernard’s ‘The Baboon in the Night Club’? Did they ...

Players, please

Jonathan Bate, 6 December 1984

The Oxford Book of War Poetry 
edited by Jon Stallworthy.
Oxford, 358 pp., £9.50, September 1984, 0 19 214125 2
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Secret Destinations 
by Charles Causley.
Macmillan, 69 pp., £7.95, September 1984, 0 333 38268 4
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Fast Forward 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 64 pp., £4.50, October 1984, 0 19 211967 2
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Dark Glasses 
by Blake Morrison.
Chatto, 71 pp., £3.95, October 1984, 0 7011 2875 5
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... indelible in our collective consciousness. Further testimony of that indelibility is provided by Charles Causley’s new collection, Secret Destinations. Causley was born in Launceston, Cornwall, in 1917. His place and date of birth still weigh heavily on his work. He is at his best when writing of the locality he ...

Phil the Lark

Ian Hamilton, 13 October 1988

Collected Poems 
by Philip Larkin, edited by Anthony Thwaite.
Faber/Marvell Press, 330 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 571 15196 5
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... only four poems – two rather charming birthday poems (one for Gavin Ewart, the other for Charles Causley), a poem about a dead hedgehog, and a couple of stanzas specially written for a Poetry Review special number on poetry and drink. After his death in 1985, a handful of unpublished poems was found. The strongest of these are desperately ...
Friends of Promise: Cyril Connolly and the World of ‘Horizon’ 
by Michael Shelden.
Hamish Hamilton, 254 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 241 12647 9
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Coastwise Lights 
by Alan Ross.
Collins Harvill, 254 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 00 271767 0
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William Plomer 
by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 397 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 19 212243 6
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... alone to thrash a craven race And hold a mirror to its dirty face. His voice was described by Charles Causley as having a faintly ecclesiastical boom, ‘the voice of a mischievous archdeacon with a sideline in African magic’. In his youth he had collaborated with Campbell and Laurens van der Post on the literary magazine Voorslag, then the only ...


Alan Bennett: A Shameful Year, 8 January 2004

... be honest’ another of his frank-seeming phrases.11 June. Why isn’t more fuss made over Charles Causley? Looking through his Collected Poems to copy out his ‘Ten Types of Hospital Visitor’ I dip into some of his other poems, so many of them vivid and memorable. Well into his eighties, he must be one of the most distinguished poets writing ...


Robert Crawford, 20 April 1989

by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £8.95, September 1988, 0 571 15229 5
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A Field of Vision 
by Charles Causley.
Macmillan, 68 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 333 48229 8
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Seeker, Reaper 
by George Campbell Hay and Archie MacAlister.
Saltire Society, 30 pp., £15, September 1988, 0 85411 041 0
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In Through the Head 
by William McIlvanney.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £9.95, September 1988, 1 85158 169 3
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The New British Poetry 
edited by Gillian Allnutt, Fred D’Aguiar, Ken Edwards and Eric Mottram.
Paladin, 361 pp., £6.95, September 1988, 0 586 08765 6
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Complete Poems 
by Martin Bell, edited by Peter Porter.
Bloodaxe, 240 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 1 85224 043 1
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First and Always: Poems for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital 
edited by Lawrence Sail.
Faber, 69 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 571 55374 5
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by Mick Imlah.
Chatto, 61 pp., £4.95, September 1988, 0 7011 3358 9
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... that is both universal and domestic. Dunn’s book is far from alone in its attention to home. Charles Causley’s admirers will be pleased with the new collection, A Field of Vision, in which, as the blurb stresses, ‘he comes home again and again.’ Linguistically more adventurous is George Campbell Hay’s Seeker, Reaper, a single poem in ...

What a carry-on

Seamus Perry: W.S. Graham, 18 July 2019

W.S. Graham: New Selected Poems 
edited by Matthew Francis.
Faber, 144 pp., £12.99, September 2018, 978 0 571 34844 2
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W.S. Graham 
edited by Michael Hofmann.
NYRB, 152 pp., £9.99, October 2018, 978 1 68137 276 1
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... irony which makes a joke of the self-pity at the same time – as when he characterises himself to Charles Monteith, his worldly editor at Faber and Faber, as a ‘simple ploughboy from the north’, which he certainly wasn’t. In his bouncy Memoirs of the Forties (1965), Julian Maclaren-Ross offers a memorable portrait of Graham brooding over his pint, a man ...

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