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... populate me animate sensitively the spirit of dwelling behind the big blue harbour storage tanks I would have children in animal masks appearing round lampposts and knowing the names of the boats coming in I desire fishermen come home to sand-floored cottages distant factory boats moored level with the breakwater wall my life has been a series of sailors’ knots tightened and loosed stronger than floodtides and briefly lingering traceries across my palm where the blood knot and perfection loop have slipped through my fingers I have hung out the laundry in front of the house on the Sabbath and had it back through the letterbox I have had it with all but the ship in a bottle the scene becomes sooner or later the heaped rigging unfurled with a yank on a string and the whole salty tale set down and forgotten between lace curtain and window ...

‘A Pint of Milk’

David Wheatley, 19 May 2005

... leaving behind     only yourself and     the door unlocked venture down     the avenue for the messages     becoming the street as you go          and keeping an eye out for a hole in your shoe     the dog’s first word a bundle of rye     tomorrow’s paper a pub with no beer     a hole in the sky they ...

Two Poems

David Wheatley, 8 May 2008

... The Antarctic Poetry School Historically, the absence of even one writer has been the least of the Antarctic School’s worries. Is its hallmark cool tone sustainable in today’s climate? I suspect not, though the Old Antarctic for ‘burning zeal’ is ‘thin ice, beware’ and ‘splash, ha ha’. Most traditional verse forms are too complex to have been ever attempted ...

Do, Not, Love, Make, Beds

David Wheatley: Irish literary magazines, 3 June 2004

Irish Literary Magazines: An Outline History and Descriptive Bibliography 
Irish Academic, 318 pp., £35, January 2003, 0 7165 2751 0Show More
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... For a country with one of the oldest book-making traditions in Europe, Ireland was a late arrival on the magazine scene: Tom Clyde’s first example is Swift’s Examiner, started in 1710, ‘written purely for English consumption, and reprinted in Dublin, unchanged, only as an afterthought’. A rash of Tatler imitators gave way to more nationally minded miscellanies by the mid-century, but the first golden age of the Irish magazine was the 1790s ...

The Devilish God

David Wheatley: T.S. Eliot, 1 November 2001

Words Alone: The Poet T.S. Eliot 
by Denis Donoghue.
Yale, 326 pp., £17.95, January 2001, 0 300 08329 7
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Adam’s Curse: Reflections on Religion and Literature 
by Denis Donoghue.
Notre Dame, 178 pp., £21.50, May 2001, 0 268 02009 4
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... Few presences were more imposing in postwar poetry than that of T.S. Eliot, but from his eminence as the Pope of Russell Square, Eliot has now shrunk to something more like a holy ghost. Pound’s right-wing unpleasantness, because so deranged, seems somehow more forgivable, to the huddled ranks of Poundians at least. Critics unimpressed by the psychodrama of Eliot’s Christianity, such as Harold Bloom and Helen Vendler, much prefer Yeats and Stevens ...

Dialect with Army and Navy

David Wheatley: Douglas Dunn and Politovsky, 21 June 2001

The Donkey’s Ears: Politovsky’s Letters Home 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 176 pp., £7.99, May 2000, 0 571 20426 0
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The Year's Afternoon 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £7.99, October 2000, 0 571 20427 9
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... Among the more unusual relics of the fishing industry in Hull’s maritime museum is a holed fragment of the trawler Mino, sunk off the Dogger Bank in October 1904. At the time, the Russian fleet was making its way from the Baltic to the Pacific the long – the incredibly long – way round, where they hoped to engage the waiting Japanese. Mistaking a group of Hull trawlers for enemy craft they opened fire, a mere 18,000 miles off target ...

Agh, Agh, Yah, Boo

David Wheatley: Ian Hamilton Finlay, 4 December 2014

Midway: Letters from Ian Hamilton Finlay to Stephen Bann, 1964-69 
edited by Stephen Bann.
Wilmington Square, 426 pp., £25, May 2014, 978 1 905524 34 1
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... If we see him as a second-generation recruit to the ranks of mid-century modernist loners – David Jones, Basil Bunting, W.S. Graham and R.S. Thomas – Finlay’s continued evasion of a biographer acquires honourable precedents. Jones has yet to be biographised (though long-time devotee Tom Dilworth is on the trail), Graham likewise; Justin Wintle’s ...

In the Gasworks

David Wheatley, 18 May 2000

To Ireland, I 
by Paul Muldoon.
Oxford, 150 pp., £19.99, March 2000, 0 19 818475 1
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Bandanna 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 64 pp., £7.99, February 1999, 0 571 19762 0
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The Birds 
translated by Paul Muldoon, by Richard Martin.
Gallery Press, 80 pp., £13.95, July 1999, 1 85235 245 0
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Reading Paul Muldoon 
by Clair Wills.
Bloodaxe, 222 pp., £10.95, October 1998, 1 85224 348 1
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... Marcel Aymé’s novel Le Passemuraille, about a man who can walk through walls, would have interested Thomas Caulfield Irwin (1823-92). Irwin is cited in Paul Muldoon’s To Ireland, I for a neighbourly dispute he was having with one John O’Donovan. ‘He says I am his enemy,’ Irwin wrote, ‘and watch him through the thickness of the wall which divides our houses ...

I hate thee, Djaun Bool

Denis Donoghue: James Clarence Mangan, 17 March 2005

James Clarence Mangan: Selected Writings 
edited by Sean Ryder.
University College Dublin, 514 pp., £21, February 2004, 1 900621 92 4
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The Collected Works of James Clarence Mangan: Prose 1832-39 
edited by Jacques Chuto, Peter Van der Kamp, Augustine Martin and Ellen Shannon-Mangan.
Irish Academic, 416 pp., £45, October 2002, 0 7165 2577 1
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The Collected Works of James Clarence Mangan: Prose 1840-82 
edited by Jacques Chuto, Peter Van der Kamp, Augustine Martin and Ellen Shannon-Mangan.
Irish Academic, 496 pp., £45, October 2002, 0 7165 2735 9
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James Clarence Mangan: Poems 
edited by David Wheatley.
Gallery Press, 160 pp., £8.95, April 2005, 1 85235 345 7
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Selected Poems of James Clarence Mangan 
edited by Jacques Chuto, Rudolf Holzapfel, Peter Van der Kamp and Ellen Shannon-Mangan.
Irish Academic, 320 pp., £16, May 2003, 0 7165 2782 0
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... and Minor Literature: James Clarence Mangan and the Emergence of Irish Cultural Nationalism (1987) David Lloyd argues that Mangan’s life ‘appears resistant to a nationalist typology, and it frames a body of work that is equally inassimilable to a nationalist aesthetic’. He doesn’t deny that Mangan often wrote for the nationalist cause, and in the ...

Losers

Ross McKibbin, 23 October 1986

The Politics of the UCS Work-In: Class Alliances and the Right to Work 
by John Foster and Charles Woolfson.
Lawrence and Wishart, 446 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 85315 663 8
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A Lost Left: Three Studies in Socialism and Nationalism 
by David Howell.
Manchester, 351 pp., £29.95, July 1986, 0 7190 1959 1
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The Miners’ Strike 1984-5: Loss without Limit 
by Martin Adeney and John Lloyd.
Routledge, 319 pp., £14.95, October 1986, 0 7102 0694 1
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Red Hill: A Mining Community 
by Tony Parker.
Heinemann, 196 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 434 57771 5
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Strike Free: New Industrial Relations in Britain 
by Philip Bassett.
Macmillan, 197 pp., £10.95, August 1986, 9780333418000
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... the electoral success of the Labour Party. This is not a view that Foster and Woolfson would take. David Howell is concerned with a similar theme: how can we reconcile nationality and socialism? Howell, prompted by the Falklands War (and understandably made more depressed by ‘the sodden summer of 1985’), has tried to answer the question by an examination ...

The Atmosphere of the Clyde

Jean McNicol: Red Clydeside, 2 January 2020

When the Clyde Ran Red: A Social History of Red Clydeside 
by Maggie Craig.
Birlinn, 313 pp., £9.99, March 2018, 978 1 78027 506 2
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Glasgow 1919: The Rise of Red Clydeside 
by Kenny MacAskill.
Biteback, 310 pp., £20, January 2019, 978 1 78590 454 7
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John Maclean: Hero of Red Clydeside 
by Henry Bell.
Pluto, 242 pp., £14.99, October 2018, 978 0 7453 3838 5
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... needle-pointer from Singer; at the Albion Works, William Gallacher of the BSP; at Beardmore’s, David Kirkwood, who had recently joined the ILP and was a reluctant supporter of the war (‘I was too proud of the battles of the past to stand aside and see Scotland conquered’); and at Barr and Stroud, John Muir, also of the SLP.The strike ended after a ...

Pepys’s Place

Pat Rogers, 16 June 1983

The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Vol X: Companion and Vol XI: Index 
edited by Robert Latham.
Bell and Hyman, 626 pp., £19.50, February 1983, 0 7135 1993 2
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The Diary of John Evelyn 
edited by John Bowle.
Oxford, 476 pp., £19.50, April 1983, 0 19 251011 8
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The Brave Courtier: Sir William Temple 
by Richard Faber.
Faber, 187 pp., £15, February 1983, 0 571 11982 4
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... on virtually unaided until Latham and Matthews came along. The previous standard edition by H.B. Wheatley appeared in ten volumes between 1893 and 1899, a date closer to the original publication in 1825 than to the present. It’s true that Wheatley delivered a much fuller text than his predecessors, omitting only ‘a few ...

After the Battle

Matthew Coady, 26 November 1987

Misrule 
by Tam Dalyell.
Hamish Hamilton, 152 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 241 12170 1
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One Man’s Judgement: An Autobiography 
by Lord Wheatley.
Butterworth, 230 pp., £15.95, July 1987, 0 406 10019 5
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Changing Battlefields: The Challenge to the Labour Party 
by John Silkin.
Hamish Hamilton, 226 pp., £13.95, September 1987, 9780241121719
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Heseltine: The Unauthorised Biography 
by Julian Critchley.
Deutsch, 198 pp., £9.95, September 1987, 0 233 98001 6
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... are even applauded by his father-in-law, which is not always the case in human affairs. Lord Wheatley, in his admirably modest account of a meritorious Scot’s progress from a Shettleston boyhood to the highest reaches of his country’s legal and political life, offers a magisterial stamp of approval: Tam, he concedes, may be a controversial ...

Do your homework

David Runciman: What’s Wrong with Theresa May, 16 March 2017

Theresa May: The Enigmatic Prime Minister 
by Rosa Prince.
Biteback, 402 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 1 78590 145 4
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... This​ is a dry and dutiful book which reads like a ghost story. The person being haunted is David Cameron. Theresa May grew up in a Cotswolds village called Church Enstone, where her father was vicar for much of the 1960s. The vicarage is within five miles of what became Cameron’s constituency home when he was MP for Witney and is roughly the same distance from what is now Soho Farmhouse, a members’ club, a little piece of the metropolis that is a haven for the Chipping Norton set ...

Umpteens

Christopher Ricks, 22 November 1990

Bloomsbury Dictionary of Dedications 
edited by Adrian Room.
Bloomsbury, 354 pp., £17.99, September 1990, 0 7475 0521 7
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Unauthorised Versions: Poems and their Parodies 
edited by Kenneth Baker.
Faber, 446 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 0 571 14122 6
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The Faber Book of Vernacular Verse 
edited by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 407 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 571 14470 5
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... If you want a good book on dedications, look out for a second-hand copy of Henry B. Wheatley’s The Dedication of Books to Patron and Friend: A Chapter of Literary History (1887). Room lists it in his brief bibliography, so in plundering it he could be accused of plagiarism only by those who believe that there is such a thing as plagiarism with ...

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