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... Triangular Macquarie Place, up from the Quay, Is half rain forest, half a sculpture park Where can be found – hemmed in by palms and ferns, Trees touching overhead – the Obelisk From which, one learns, All Public Roads are Measured Leading to the Interior of the Colony. Skyscraper cliffs keep this green garden dark. The Obelisk is sandstone. Thomas Mort Is also present, bronze on a tall plinth – His plain Victorian three-piece suit bulks large, Befitting Sydney’s first successful exporter Of refrigerated foods – while, lower down This plush declivity, one finds a bubbler Superfluously shaded by a small But intricate gun-metal baldacchino, Sure-footed as a Donatello font ...
London Reviews 
edited by Nicholas Spice.
Chatto, 222 pp., £5.95, October 1985, 0 7011 2988 3
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The New Review Anthology 
edited by Ian Hamilton.
Heinemann, 320 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 434 31330 0
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Night and Day 
edited by Christopher Hawtree, by Graham Greene.
Chatto, 277 pp., £12.95, November 1985, 0 07 011296 7
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Lilliput goes to war 
edited by Kaye Webb.
Hutchinson, 288 pp., £10.95, September 1985, 9780091617608
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Penguin New Writing: 1940-1950 
edited by John Lehmann and Roy Fuller.
Penguin, 496 pp., September 1985, 0 14 007484 8
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... reviews. The verse is of a high standard. We see poems that helped establish the reputations of James Fenton and Craig Raine; poems by Heaney and Lowell; and Peter Porter’s ‘An Australian Garden’, which counts among his best things. Of the short stories, ‘Solid Geometry’ is a reminder that TNR played host to Ian McEwan when he was still regarded ...

A Gesture towards James Joyce

Clive James, 5 July 1984

... My gesture towards Finnegans Wake is deliberate. Ronald Bush, T. S. Eliot: A Study in Character and Style The gesture towards Finnegans Wake was deliberate. It was not accidental. Years of training went into the gesture, As W.C. Fields would practise a juggling routine Until his eczema-prone hands bled in their kid gloves; As Douglas Fairbanks Sr trimmed the legs of a table Until, without apparent effort and from a standing start, He could jump up onto it backwards; Or as Gene Kelly danced an entire tracking shot over and over Until the final knee-slide ended exactly in focus, Loafers tucked pigeon-toed behind him, Perfect smile exultant, Hands thrown open saying ‘How about that?’ The gesture towards Finnegans Wake was deliberate ...

Thoughts on Feeling Carbon-Dated

Clive James, 24 January 1980

... supply of mental giants. A Goethe now would lack words to loathe Newton. It’s forty years since James Joyce named the quark. Now nobody’s nonplussed to hear light rays Get sucked down holes so fast they show up dark. Nor would the converse of that news amaze. It all gets out of reach as it grows clear. What we once failed to grasp but still were thrilled ...

To Anthony Thwaite at Fifty

Clive James, 4 December 1980

... ceased – And that’s a fact as certain as my name’s (This line I’ll have to pad a bit) ...

The Supreme Farewell of Handkerchiefs

Clive James, 21 August 1980

... with acknowledgments to Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale, authors of ‘Misia’ ‘I’ve left that great page blank,’ said Mallarmé When asked why he’d not written of his boat. There are such things as mean too much to say. You have to let it drift, to let it float. The man who did the asking was Manet, Whose niece’s journal treasures the reply ...

Jet-Lag in Tokyo

Clive James, 21 May 1987

... Flat feet kept Einstein out of the army. The Emperor’s horse considers its position. In Akasaka men sit down and weep Because the night must end. At Chez Oz I discussed my old friend’s sex change With a lovely woman who, I later learned, Had also had one. The second movement Of the Mahler Seventh on my Boodo Kahn Above the North Pole spoke to me like you ...

Reflections on a Cardboard Box

Clive James, 6 September 1984

... Hostathion contains Triazophos, Controls seed weevil, pea moth, carrot fly. Of pesticides Hostathion is the boss. Pests take one sip, kick up their heels and die. They never find out what Hostathion is. Triazophos remains the merest word, Though partly echoed by the acrid fizz Which suddenly grows too loud to be heard. Hostathion was once Achilles’ friend, Staunch at his elbow before Ilios, But now that name brings pea moth a quick end Assisted by the cruel Triazophos ...

Lock Me Away

Clive James, 22 September 2005

... In the NHS psychiatric test For classifying the mentally ill You have to spell ‘world’ backwards. Since I heard this, I can’t stop doing it. The first time I tried pronouncing the results I got a sudden flaring picture Of Danny La Rue in short pants With his mouth full of marshmallows. He was giving his initial and surname To a new schoolteacher ...

Godfrey in Paradise

Clive James, 2 September 1982

... Admirers of Godfrey Smith’s ‘Sunday Times’ column, one of whose principal concerns is the various promotional free meals to which he is invited, were not surprised to learn, from a recent feature article by him in the same newspaper, that lunch is his idea of heaven. When Godfrey Smith goes up to Heaven He’ll see more cream teas than in Devon And angels in McDonald’s hats Ladling chips from golden vats ...

Echo echo echo

Clive James, 20 December 1984

... Changes in temperature entail turmoil. Petits pois palpitate before they boil. Ponds on the point of freezing look like oil And God knows what goes on below the soil. God and the naturalists, who penetrate With camera crews to depths as dark as fate And shoot scenes hideous to contemplate Where burrowing Attenboroughs fight and mate. In outer space the endless turbulence Seems too far gone to be at our expense ...
... Last night the sea dreamed it was Greta Scacchi. It wakes unruffled, lustrous, feeling sweet – Not one breath of scandal has ever touched it. At a higher level, the rain has too much power. Grim clouds conspire to bring about its downfall. The squeeze is on, there is bound to be a shake-out. The smug sea and the sky that will soon go bust Look like antagonists, but don’t be fooled: They understand each other very well ...

Go back to the opal sunset

Clive James, 19 February 1987

... Go back to the opal sunset, where the wine Costs peanuts, and the avocado mousse Is thick and strong as cream from a jade cow. Before the passionfruit shrinks on the vine Go back to where the heat turns your limbs loose. You’ve worked your heart out and need no excuse. Knock out your too-tall tent-pegs and go now. It’s England, April, and it’s pissing down, So realise your assets and go back To the opal sunset ...

Where the Sea Meets the Desert

Clive James: A Poem, 31 October 2002

... Antony and Cleopatra swam at Mersa Matruh In the clear blue shallows. Imagine the clean sand, the absence of litter – No plastic bottles or scraps of styrofoam packing, No jetsam at all except the occasional corpse Of a used slave tossed off a galley – And the shrieks of the dancing Queen as the hero splashed her While her cheer-squad of ladies-in-waiting giggled on cue, The eunuchs holding the towels ...

The Zero Pilot

Clive James, 5 February 2004

... On the Hiryu, Hajime Toyoshima Starred in the group photos like Andy Hardy, He was so small and cute. His face, as friendly as his first name (In Japanese you say hajime at first meeting), Could have been chirping: ‘Hey, why don’t we Put the show on right here in the barn?’ After Pearl Harbor he was one of the great ship’s heroes And the attack on Darwin promised him yet more glory, But his engine conked out over Melville Island From one lousy rifle bullet in the oil system ...

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