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Their voices rang

Charles Tomlinson, 20 December 1979

... Their voices rang through the winter trees: they were speaking and yet it seemed they sang, the trunks a hall of victory. And what is that and where? Though we come to it rarely, the sense of all that we might be conjures the place from air. Is it the mind, then? It is the mind received, assumed into a season forestial in the absence of all leaves. Their voices rang through the winter trees and time catching the cadence of that song forgot itself in them ...

At the Edge

Charles Tomlinson, 1 May 1980

... The offscape, the in-folds, secreted    Water-holes in the boles of trees, Abandoned bits, this door of water    On the wood’s floor (knock with the breath And enter a world reverted, a catacomb    Of branching ways where the roots splay): Edges are centres: once you have found    Their lines of force, the least of gossamers Leads and frees you, nets you a universe    Whose iridescent weave shines true Because you see it, but whose centre is not you:    Through the wheel of a web today I saw The wren, that mere mouse of a bird    Hurry from its hole and back again With such an energy of glancing lightness    It made me measure all the force unspied That stirred inside that bank, still    As it seemed, beside the flashing watercourse That came straight on contrary to my direction and    Out of the dereliction of an edge of woodland ...

Pioneers

Christopher Reid, 3 September 1981

Some Americans: A Personal Record 
by Charles Tomlinson.
California, 134 pp., £6.50, June 1981, 0 520 04037 6
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... It is strange,’ Charles Tomlinson writes, ‘to have met the innovators of one’s time only when age had overtaken them.’ The innovators to whom he refers are those American poets – Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams and others – whose work and moral example have been of importance to his own growth as a writer ...

The Road to Sligo

Tom Paulin, 17 May 1984

Poetry and Metamorphosis 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Cambridge, 97 pp., £9.95, March 1983, 0 521 24848 5
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Translations 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 120 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 19 211958 3
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Conversation with the Prince 
by Tadeusz Rozewicz, translated by Adam Czerniawski.
Anvil, 206 pp., £4.95, March 1982, 0 85646 079 6
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Passions and Impressions 
by Pablo Neruda, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden.
Farrar, Straus/Faber, 396 pp., £16.50, October 1983, 0 571 12054 7
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An Empty Room 
by Leopold Staff, translated by Adam Czerniawski.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £3.25, March 1983, 0 906427 52 5
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... language is an enlightened and idealistic concept, and it informs the Clark Lectures which Charles Tomlinson delivered in Dryden’s old college, Trinity, Cambridge, in 1982. Tomlinson is an enthusiastic admirer of Dryden, whom he terms ‘the Poundian figure of his age’, and he also speaks inspiringly of the ...

Kelpers

Claude Rawson, 17 June 1982

St Kilda’s Parliament 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 87 pp., £3, September 1981, 0 571 11770 8
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Airborn/Hijos del Aire 
by Octavio Paz and Charles Tomlinson.
Anvil, 29 pp., £1.25, April 1981, 0 85646 072 9
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The Flood 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 55 pp., £3.95, June 1981, 0 19 211944 3
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Looking into the Deep End 
by David Sweetman.
Faber, 47 pp., £3, March 1981, 0 571 11730 9
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Independence 
by Andrew Motion.
Salamander, 28 pp., £5, December 1981, 0 907540 05 8
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... gives a sense of substantial and sensitive gifts embarrassed by a strange sporadic uneasiness. Charles Tomlinson and Octavio Paz collaborated in producing ‘the first Western renga’, a Japanese name for a poem by several poets writing alternating parts. That first experiment was quadrilingual, and Airborn is a bilingual variant ‘in slow ...

Received Accents

Peter Robinson, 20 February 1986

Collected Poems 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 351 pp., £15, September 1985, 0 19 211974 5
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Selected and New Poems: 1939-84 
by J.C. Hall.
Secker, 87 pp., £3.95, September 1985, 0 436 19052 4
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Burning the knife: New and Selected Poems 
by Robin Magowan.
Scarecrow Press, 114 pp., £13.50, September 1985, 0 8108 1777 2
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Englishmen: A Poem 
by Christopher Hope.
Heinemann, 41 pp., £4.95, September 1985, 0 434 34661 6
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Selected Poems: 1954-1982 
by John Fuller.
Secker, 175 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 436 16754 9
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Writing Home 
by Hugo Williams.
Oxford, 70 pp., £3.95, September 1985, 0 19 211970 2
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... Charles Tomlinson has a poem called ‘Class’ about the Midland pronunciation of the first letter of the alphabet. In the last chapter of Some Americans, the poet tells how for a short time he was Percy Lubbock’s secretary at a villa near Lerici. In ‘Class’, he says he tried to pronounce the ‘ah’ of received English, but couldn’t and, because ‘I too visibly shredded his fineness,’ was released from the post ...

Consequences

Christopher Reid, 15 May 1980

Renga 
by Octavio Paz, Jacques Roubaud, Edoardo Sanguineti and Charles Tomlinson.
Penguin, 95 pp., £1.95, November 1979, 0 14 042268 4
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Kites in Spring 
by John Hewitt.
Blackstaff, 63 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 0 85640 206 0
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The Island Normal 
by Brian Jones.
Carcanet, 91 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 9780856353406
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New Poetry 5 
edited by Peter Redgrove and Jon Silkin.
Hutchinson, 163 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 09 139570 4
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... composed in Paris more than ten years ago by Octavio Paz, Jacques Roubaud, Edoardo Sanguineti and Charles Tomlinson has recently been published here. This work, the result of five days’ collaboration in the basement of the Hôtel St Simon on the left Bank, has both oriental and occidental ancestry. The ceremonial meeting of poets to enact a ritual of ...

Other Poems and Other Poets

Donald Davie, 20 September 1984

Notes from New York, and Other Poems 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 64 pp., £4.50, March 1984, 0 19 211959 1
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The Cargo 
by Neil Rennie.
TNR Productions, 27 pp., January 1984
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Collected Poems 1943-1983 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 383 pp., £14.95, April 1984, 0 85635 498 8
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... admonition (especially the last sentence) is what I try to hold in mind when I give my sense of Charles Tomlinson’s poetry. Those who have been aghast at the churlish reviews of Tomlinson’s Poetry and Metamorphosis – Charles Martindale, who protested at Tom Paulin’s review ...

Enlarging Insularity

Patrick McGuinness: Donald Davie, 20 January 2000

With the Grain: Essays on Thomas Hardy and Modern British Poetry 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 346 pp., £14.95, October 1998, 1 85754 394 7
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... a number of essays, directly or obliquely related, spanning almost forty years: on Basil Bunting, Charles Tomlinson, Ted Hughes, Robert Graves, Hugh MacDiarmid, J.M. Synge, David Jones, George Steiner, Geoffrey Hill, Elizabeth Daryush and the fraternity of poets anthologised by Andrew Crozier and Tim Longville in A Various Art. It also includes a number ...

A Match for Macchu Picchu

Christopher Reid, 4 June 1981

Translating Neruda: The Way to Macchu Picchu 
by John Felstiner.
Stanford, 284 pp., $18.50, December 1980, 0 8047 1079 1
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The Oxford Book of Verse in English Translation 
edited by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 608 pp., £12.95, October 1980, 0 19 214103 1
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... us be thankful that a volume as serious, innovatory, large in its scope and meticulously edited as Charles Tomlinson’s Oxford Book of Verse in English Translation can still be considered a marketable commodity. This cannot have been an easy book to compile. With the small exception of George Steiner’s 1966 Penguin Book of Modern Verse ...

Davie’s Rap

Neil Corcoran, 25 January 1990

Under Briggflatts: A History of Poetry in Great Britain 1960-1988 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 261 pp., £18.95, October 1989, 0 85635 820 7
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Annunciations 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 55 pp., £5.95, November 1989, 0 19 282680 8
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Possible Worlds 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 68 pp., £6.95, September 1989, 0 19 282660 3
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The boys who stole the funeral: A Novel Sequence 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 71 pp., £6.95, October 1989, 0 85635 845 2
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... to reinforce it, and he would probably take confirmation in it from the other books under review. Charles Tomlinson’s Annunciations and Peter Porter’s Possible Worlds share Renaissance Virgins for cover illustrations. Tomlinson’s is Lorenzo Lotto’s Annunciation, in which the angel has just leapt ...

Scots wha hae gone to England

Donald Davie, 9 July 1992

Devolving English Literature 
by Robert Crawford.
Oxford, 320 pp., £35, June 1992, 9780198112983
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The Faber Book of 20th-Century Scottish Poetry 
edited by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 424 pp., £17.50, July 1992, 9780571154319
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... the pair (both provincials, of course) whom Kenner singled out as the most honourable exceptions: Charles Tomlinson, who applauded William Soutar, and Basil Bunting, who befriended MacDiarmid. Yet Tomlinson and Bunting are the true mavericks, as Kenner recognised. They are mavericks because, while acknowledging ...
A Word from the Loki 
by Maurice Riordan.
Faber, 64 pp., £6.99, January 1995, 0 571 17364 0
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After the Deafening 
by Gerard Woodward.
Chatto, 64 pp., £7.99, October 1994, 0 7011 6271 6
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The Ice-Pilot Speaks 
by Pauline Stainer.
Bloodaxe, 80 pp., £6.95, October 1994, 1 85224 298 1
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The Angel of History 
by Carolyn Forché.
Bloodaxe, 96 pp., £7.95, November 1994, 1 85224 307 4
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The Neighbour 
by Michael Collier.
Chicago, 74 pp., £15.95, January 1995, 0 226 11358 2
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Jubilation 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 64 pp., £6.99, March 1995, 0 19 282451 1
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... mood, without having his verbal brilliance: ‘the wind has eaten the faces from the angels of Charles Bridge /as if the earth had finished with us.’ One problem with the book is the frequency of her empty aphorism – ‘it was like living through something again one could not live through again’ – but she has a good eye for quotations and the high ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: Little Magazines in Canberra, 9 July 1987

... post World War Two. Not a very big subject, in Kenner’s view, since the whole thing stopped with Charles Tomlinson and Basil Bunting and is only spuriously ‘kept alive’ these days by the careerist machinations of people like Craig Raine and Andrew Motion. Kenner is not writing specifically for an Australian audience but he is writing for an ...

Real isn’t real

Michael Wood: Octavio Paz, 4 July 2013

The Poems of Octavio Paz 
edited and translated by Eliot Weinberger.
New Directions, 606 pp., £30, October 2012, 978 0 8112 2043 9
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... of individual poems by Elizabeth Bishop, Paul Blackburn, Denise Levertov, Muriel Rukeyser and Charles Tomlinson. In the notes Weinberger has glossed allusions, and brought together, as my quotations have suggested, an illuminating set of comments by Paz himself. Paz’s recurring references are to Baudelaire and Nerval, but his work is often close to ...

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