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Craig Raine, 3 June 2015

... can be read by a machine. She stares at a screen. And then she asks, looking up from her desk: ‘Craig Raine the poet?’ We have less than half a minute. ‘I studied you. For my MA at uni. I did an MA in poetry. Now I’m in the immigration service.’ I want to give her a kiss. But I can’t. Why is this so marvellous? So hysterical? We are close. We ...

Memories of the Linen Room

Craig Raine, 22 November 1979

... Fetch me the handkerchief; my mind misgives …’ Othello (III, iv, 89) In the dormitory, boys laced up their rugby boots like parcels, knowing the mud outside would add that final touch of scaling wax. It’s taken them twenty years to be delivered by an accident: I see a pint of gritty mussels for sale and think of wet boots on the changing-room floor ...

A Free Translation

Craig Raine, 22 January 1981

... for Norma Kitson) Seeing the pagoda of dirty dinner plates, I observe my hands under the kitchen tap as it they belonged to Marco Polo: glib with soap, they speak of details from a pillow book, the fifty-seven ways in which the Yin receives the Yang. Rinsed and purified, they flick off drops like a court magician whose stretching fingers seek to hypnotise the helpless house ...

For Hans Keller

Craig Raine, 5 December 1985

... There will be more of this, more of this than I had realised of finding our friends irrevocably changed, skewed like Guy Fawkes in a chair because all the muscles have gone and talking as if nothing has happened when nothing has happened. There will be more of this, more of coming to crematoria to learn that a life can come to an end like a Haydn quartet, without a repeat ...

The Widower

Craig Raine, 7 May 1981

... His wet waders dipped in lacquer by the light, the lobsterman puts out to sea against the tide that tilts his boat. From where we stand, up on the dunes, his wicker pots have dwindled already to balls of twine, but for five minutes, saluting the sun out of our eyes, we watch him knit with clumsy oars, while the waves unravel their length, this way, that way, on the beach below ...

The Prophetic Book

Craig Raine, 20 September 1984

... I will give you the world, the world we are given: the turban in a tangerine, a snooker table, say, with six suspensory bandages, the lemon squeezer in the men’s urinal. You will need to know the names of stone: Taynton, Clipsham, Anstrude, Besace, Headington, Wheatley, Perou, and then Savonnières Courteraie which is quarried at Meuse. Sweet shades of chamois leather ...

Those No-Doubt-About-It Infidelity Blues

Craig Raine, 18 December 2008

... Like a throw of shot silk, its blue brilliance calmed by the iron, completed, so you can clearly see the alternative versions. This is the first thing, The first thing you feel When you happen to find That the worst thing, The worst thing that could happen Has happened for real. And everything adds up to a pattern, So that it’s certain now, As if there’s somehow a curtain Drawn back in your mind ...
Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years 
by Brian Boyd.
Chatto, 783 pp., £25, January 1992, 0 7011 3701 0
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... Nabokov ‘had a flypaper feel for words’, according to Alison Bishop, who knew him at Cornell when she was a child. He might, therefore, have relished his biographer coming mildly unstuck in the course of this otherwise tenacious, intricately argued, judicious account of Nabokov’s life in the States, and, post-Lolita, in Montreux. Disposing of Andrew Field, his predecessor in the field, Brian Boyd cites his insolent, perfunctory response to one of Nabokov’s factual corrections ...

Songs for an Opera

Craig Raine, 3 April 1986

... The moon was open-mouthed with fear, on the night the Novik went down. The guns were greased, the decks were clear, the sea a steady frown. We knelt there ready for action, sweating in spite of the cold. Her plates were shifting a fraction as the engines throbbed in the hold. We could see a ship on the skyline like the beam in a Pharisee’s eye. We could hear the fluttering ensign like panic in the sky ...

Yoked together

Frank Kermode, 22 September 1994

History: The Home Movie 
by Craig Raine.
Penguin, 335 pp., £9.99, September 1994, 0 14 024240 6
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... reader feels ... as if he had been riding on the rims over an endless timber bridge.’ As I read Craig Raine’s new poem (a novel, an epic, a film, says the ebullient blurb) something stirred in the depths of memory, and I found myself thinking of Theophila, a very long poem published by Edward Benlowes in 1652. Theophila is written in three-line ...
... Dear Craig,     I’ve brought your books down to the sea In order to catch up with what you’ve done Since first I gasped at your facility For writing Martian postcards home. The sun Illuminates The Onion, Memory Two pages at a time. The beach girls run With naked bosoms on my low horizon And yet yours are the lines I’ve got my eyes on ...

Best Things

Alan Hollinghurst, 20 August 1981

Viewpoints: Poets in Conversation with John Haffenden 
Faber, 189 pp., £7.50, June 1981, 0 571 11689 2Show More
A Free Translation 
by Craig Raine.
Salamander, 29 pp., £4.50, June 1981, 0 907540 02 3
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A German Requiem 
by James Fenton.
Salamander, 9 pp., £1.50, January 1981, 0 907540 00 7
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Caviare at the Funeral 
by Louis Simpson.
Oxford, 89 pp., £4.50, April 1981, 0 19 211943 5
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... by Faber, the outsiders being Thomas Kinsella, the unignorable Geoffrey Hill and the successful Craig Raine: in the world of literary publishing, such matters have some importance. Two of the pieces were published in Quarto, until recently edited by Raine himself. Raine’s name ...

A Martian goes to College

David Lodge, 6 December 1984

... with apologies to Craig Raine) Caxtons are bred in batteries. If you take one from its perch, a girl Must stun it with her fist before you bring it home. Learning is when you watch a conjurer with fifty minutes’ patter and no tricks. Students are dissidents: knowing their rooms are bugged, they Take care never to talk Except against the blare of music ...

A Martian School of two or more

James Fenton, 6 December 1979

A Martian sends a postcard home 
by Craig Raine.
Oxford, 46 pp., £2.95
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by Christopher Reid.
Oxford, 50 pp., £2.75
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by Hugo Williams.
Whizzard Press/Deutsch, 40 pp., £2.95
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A Faust Book 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 70 pp., £3.25, September 1979, 0 19 211895 1
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by Yehuda Amichai.
Oxford, 88 pp., £3.50
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... Craig Raine’s second collection follows swiftly upon his first, The Onion, Memory (1978). It is as if the poet had been waiting impatiently over us, while we picked ourselves up off the canvas, before delivering the second blow. A Martian sends a postcard home is a slimmer volume than its predecessor, but it will do more than simply consolidate a reputation already made ...

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