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Land of Pure Delight

Dinah Birch: Anglicising the Holy Land, 20 April 2006

The Holy Land in English Culture 1799-1917: Palestine and the Question of Orientalism 
by Eitan Bar-Yosef.
Oxford, 319 pp., £50, October 2005, 0 19 926116 4
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... and politics might imply: The fields from Islington to Marybone To Primrose Hill and Saint Johns Wood: Were builded over with pillars of gold, And there Jerusalem’s pillars stood. Blake’s short poem ‘Jerusalem’, peculiarly celebrated as the most English of visions, thinks of Christ among the English, rather than picturing the English as pilgrims to ...


Tom Paulin: Summer in Donegal, 16 September 1999

... and iron pins, bits of ancient Celtic jewellery. One hot afternoon I uncovered a charred piece of wood with two verdigris teeth sticking through it. I ran to show it to my mother – ran through the heavy shifting sand, tripped, and as I clenched it, the little bit of dry wood melted to dust. Disappointed, I clutched the ...

On Not Being Sylvia Plath

Colm Tóibín: Thom Gunn on the Move, 13 September 2018

Selected Poems 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 336 pp., £16.99, July 2017, 978 0 571 32769 0
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... and meets over the bright path he makes, where rain has darkened the earth’s dark. He moves in a wood of desire.Wilmer, in his introduction to the new Selected Poems, writes that Gunn always insisted that his use of syllabics ‘was a stage on the road to free verse, which he had earlier found difficult to write’. He notes that ‘Touch’, written in ...


Paul Davis: Networking in 18th-century London, 17 March 2005

Aaron Hill: The Muses’ Projector 1685-1750 
by Christine Gerrard.
Oxford, 267 pp., £50, August 2003, 0 19 818388 7
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... edition of Winter derives in part from Hill’s critical writings). He also knew the critic John Dennis, John Dyer (the author of the loco-descriptive smash-hit Grongar Hill), Richard Savage, Nahum Tate (the Poet Laureate) and Edward Young (Night Thoughts). For a while, early in his career, Hill acted as secretary to Lord Peterborough, the future honorary ...


Iain Sinclair: Ronnie Kray bows out, 8 June 1995

... Four pall-bearers – Charles Kray (North), Freddie Foreman (South), Johnny Nash (West), Teddy Dennis (East) – would symbolise the seigneurial homage paid by the four cardinal districts of London. The conceit was Blakean, the Sons of Albion ‘dividing the space of love with brazen compasses’. St Matthew’s is one of those typical East London parish ...

Smirk Host Panegyric

Robert Potts: J.H. Prynne, 2 June 2016

by J.H. Prynne.
Bloodaxe, 688 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 1 78037 154 2
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... that a moment in 2013, when Prynne could be seen fleetingly on Celebrity Masterchef being served wood pigeon by Les Dennis, might be regarded as a serendipitous objective correlative for this phenomenon.) Appreciation, on the other hand, remains as tricky as ever. The easiest criticism of Prynne’s work has always been ...

A Big Life

Michael Hofmann: Seamus Heaney, 4 June 2015

New Selected Poems 1988-2013 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 222 pp., £18.99, November 2014, 978 0 571 32171 1
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... Holder whiskers, the period of ‘Exposure’, of ‘long-haired and thoughtful’, of the ‘wood-kerne’ and the ‘inner émigré’. But the cheekbones are there. And a listener for sure. ‘You’ve listened long enough. Now strike your note,’ he has the ghost of Joyce address him in the marvellous ‘Station Island’ sequence from 1984. Tweed ...

Rise and Fall of Radio Features

Marilyn Butler, 7 August 1980

Louis MacNeice in the BBC 
by Barbara Coulton.
Faber, 215 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 571 11537 3
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Best Radio Plays of 1979 
Eyre Methuen/BBC, 192 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 413 47130 6Show More
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... Five dramatised features won awards, including The Streets of Pompeii by Henry Reed, Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas, and MacNeice’s Prisoner’s Progress. Meanwhile MacNeice’s play The Dark Tower, written just after VJ Day and first broadcast in the Home Service on 21 January 1946, was published with some of his other scripts in 1947 – a signal ...

Rodinsky’s Place

Patrick Wright, 29 October 1987

White Chappell: Scarlet Tracings 
by Iain Sinclair.
Goldmark, 210 pp., £12.50, October 1987, 1 870507 00 2
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... early 18th-century wall-panelling from the wiring and plumbing of excessive modern convenience. Dennis Severs has gone further and reconstructed behind his door in Folgate Street the imaginary candle-lit world – ‘a collection of atmospheres’ – of an 18th-century family. A few streets to the east, Jocasta Innes has been busy reviving traditional ...

Narco Polo

Iain Sinclair, 23 January 1997

Mr Nice: An Autobiography 
by Howard Marks.
Secker, 466 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 0 436 20305 7
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Pulp Election: The Booker Prize Fix 
by Carmen St Keeldare.
Bluedove, 225 pp., £12.99, September 1996, 0 9528298 0 0
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... strong, warm and macerated in phlegm. He had the genial, tannin glaze of a resting Stone: Ronnie Wood morphing into Bill Wyman. A heavy silver wedding ring. The ever-present mobile phone. I’d given Mr Nice a first reading. And that’s how Marks presented himself. How he charmed the uncharmable, the warders at Terre Haute Penitentiary: his ‘usual trick ...


Alan Bennett: Notes on 1997, 1 January 1998

... Literary Diary which records the birthdays of various contemporary literary figures. Here is Dennis Potter on 17 May, Michael Frayn on 8 September, Edna O’Brien on 15 December, and so naturally I turn to my own birthday. May 9 is blank except for the note: ‘The first British self-service launderette is opened on Queensway, London 1949.’4 ...

Mother One, Mother Two

Jeremy Harding: A memoir, 31 March 2005

... binding, ivory it was said, a baptism gift to ‘Jeremy’ and signed by the composer Haydn Wood – a friend of Colin’s parents, I suppose – who’d written the popular tune ‘Roses of Picardy’ in 1916. Above his signature, he’d copied out a few bars from the refrain, along with the words by Fred Weatherly. Maureen always kept a beady eye on ...

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