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Craig Raine

3 June 2015
... my passport splayed at the requisite page. She glances, she frowns, she turns it upside down so it can be read by a machine. She stares at a screen. And then she asks, looking up from her desk: ‘CraigRaine 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 ...

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 ... This single bullrush ...
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. The fishmonger’s cold red hands are ...

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. There will be too much and ...


Craig Raine

9 May 1991
... Luck    To have lived at the level of floorboards and not to give    a toss about Antaeus or any of that Only    the pleasing precision of solid dirt inlaying the planks like a long leather bootlace or finding    the perfect fit of thumb to the palate Carefully torn wallpaper    sufficient unto the hour A mouth I taste    everything because I have    no taste It is enough    this ...

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 ... Have we come here ...

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. The passionate kiss of sellotape ...

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 ...
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 feelWhen you happen to findThat the worst thing,The worst thing that could happenHas happened for real. And everything adds up to a pattern,So that it’s certain now,As if there’s somehow a curtainDrawn back in your mind. Like ...
14 May 1992
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 ...

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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... a stanza in the long poem which is not vivid, hardly one which is not more or less odd, and the reader feels ... as if he had been riding on the rims over an endless timber bridge.’ As I read CraigRaine’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 ...
1 October 1981
... 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 ...
6 December 1984
... with apologies to CraigRaine) 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 ...

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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... That there are no women is regrettable, but beyond that, seven of the ten poets are published by Faber, the outsiders being Thomas Kinsella, the unignorable Geoffrey Hill and the successful CraigRaine: 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 crops up in other ...
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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... CraigRaine’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 ...

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