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Just a smack at Grigson

Denis Donoghue, 7 March 1985

Montaigne’s Tower, and Other Poems 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 72 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 436 18806 6
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Collected Poems: 1963-1980 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 557 3
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The Faber Book of Reflective Verse 
edited by Geoffrey Grigson.
Faber, 238 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 571 13299 5
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 279 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 558 1
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 9780850315592
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Before the Romantics: An Anthology of the Enlightenment 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Salamander, 349 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 907540 59 7
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... Geoffrey Grigson’s best poem, and the type of his best poetry, is ‘His Swans’. Evidently and justly, he thinks well enough of it to put it in the Faber Book of Reflective Verse as his sole exhibit: Remote music of his swans, their long Necks ahead of them, slow Beating of their wings, in unison, Traversing serene Grey wide blended horizontals Of endless sea and sky ...

A Review of Grigson’s Verse

Graham Hough, 7 August 1980

History of Him 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 96 pp., £4.50, June 1980, 0 436 18841 4
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... Thoughtful as always about how to win friends and influence people, Geoffrey Grigson in his latest book of poems congratulates himself that his elderly eyes If they remain alert Do the more easily recognise Squirming in his primal dirt Another verse-reviewing squirt. Well, it is nice to know where we stand, and after that rousing salute the most scrupulous reviewer need not be afraid of disturbing cultural harmony or bruising the petals of a sensitive plant ...

Gurney’s Flood

Donald Davie, 3 February 1983

Geoffrey GrigsonCollected Poems 1963-1980 
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 419 4Show More
The Cornish Dancer 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 64 pp., £4.95, June 1982, 0 436 18805 8
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 420 8
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses: A Critical Collection 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 437 2
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Collected Poems of Ivor Gurney 
edited by P.J. Kavanagh.
Oxford, 284 pp., £12, September 1982, 0 19 211940 0
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War Letters 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by R.K.R. Thornton.
Mid-Northumberland Arts Group/Carcanet, 271 pp., £12, February 1983, 0 85635 408 2
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... straight or that one has the necessary stamina to keep the job, but it is a prerequisite.’) Geoffrey Grigson, so much older than Gunn (he is 77), has of course built his career about being considered impertinent, so it’s not surprising to find in his latest collection (his first was in 1939) runovers like these: So mud was on you that ...

Seventh Eighth Men Uncovered

Humphery Spender, 7 May 1981

... Geoffrey Grigson and I were touring Wiltshire in a hired car, a black Morris 1000 saloon, doing a piece of photo-journalism for Picture Post. I was taking the photographs. It-was 1951. The Mail had offered a reward of £10,000 for any information leading to the capture of the fleeing diplomats, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean ...

The Braver Thing

Christopher Ricks, 1 November 1984

T.S. Eliot 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 400 pp., £12.50, September 1984, 0 241 11349 0
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Recollections Mainly of Artists and Writers 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Chatto, 195 pp., £12.50, September 1984, 0 7011 2791 0
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... That it is a feat to be without spite is coincidentally manifested by the appearance of Geoffrey Grigson’s Recollections. Grigson’s jacket proffers, as a representative gnome: ‘I never heard T.S. Eliot laugh.’ Back in the book this stands on its lordly own in a section of ‘Items’. Some have ...

Poetry and Soda

Barbara Everett, 5 February 1981

The Penguin Book of Unrespectable Verse 
edited by Geoffrey Grigson.
Penguin, 335 pp., £1.75, November 1980, 0 14 042142 4
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The Penguin Book of Light Verse 
edited by Gavin Ewart.
Penguin, 639 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 0 14 042270 6
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... therefore, his Penguin Book of Light Verse is less wholly pleasurable, even less admirable, than Geoffrey Grigson’s now nearly ten-years-old but newly reprinted Unrespectable Verse, then part of the reason may be (given that the two volumes share a number of poems) that Grigson has had either the wisdom or the good ...

Golden Boy

Denis Donoghue, 22 December 1983

W.H.Auden: The Critical Heritage 
edited by John Haffenden.
Routledge, 535 pp., £19.95, September 1983, 0 7100 9350 0
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Auden: A Carnival of Intellect 
by Edward Callan.
Oxford, 299 pp., £12.50, August 1983, 0 19 503168 7
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Drawn from the Life: A Memoir 
by Robert Medley.
Faber, 251 pp., £12.50, November 1983, 0 571 13043 7
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... Orators when it appeared in May 1932. By the end of that year, Louis MacNeice, Stephen Spender, Geoffrey Grigson, Michael Roberts, Bonamy Dobrée, John Hayward and Graham Greene had nominated Auden as the new voice. The six odes and the epilogue of The Orators, Greene said, justified Auden’s ‘being named in the same breath as ...

At Home in the Huntington

John Sutherland: The Isherwood Archive, 10 June 1999

... of literary skill’. (Once celebrated as the Shelley of the Thirties, he was later described by Geoffrey Grigson as the ‘Rupert Brooke of the Depression’.) Isherwood, he grudgingly conceded, could claim ‘accomplishment’. Isherwood returned the tepid compliment, 12 years later, with a script for the Tony Richardson production of The Loved ...

Diary

Stephen Spender: Towards a Kind of Neo-Paganism, 21 April 1983

... true, but each supreme in his own sphere of respected judgment – F.R. Leavis on Mount Scrutiny, Geoffrey Grigson on Mount New Verse. From that time until today, the poets (all excepting Auden in his Heaven) have been in the position of soldiers wandering across a plain between fortresses, liable to be shot down in the cross-fire. In the Leavis/...

Burlington Bertie

Julian Symons, 14 June 1990

The Last Modern: A Life of Herbert Read 
by James King.
Weidenfeld, 364 pp., £25, May 1990, 0 297 81042 1
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... gives inadequate or otiose adjectives to many of the people mentioned, ‘irascible’ Leavis and Grigson, ‘astringent’ Connolly, ‘aggressive’ Lewis, ‘perennially acerbic’ Douglas Cooper, ‘self-righteous’ Rayner Heppenstall, and so on. It was the need to make a living that pushed Read’s interests towards visual art. In 1919 he married Evelyn ...

Smartened Up

Ian Hamilton, 9 March 1995

Louis MacNeice: A Biography 
by Jon Stallworthy.
Faber, 538 pp., £25, February 1995, 0 571 16019 0
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... the sense we get from his last poems of lost time and irremediable error. There is an essay by Geoffrey Grigson on MacNeice, in which this is said: ‘He could be embarrassingly silent. A conversation came to a halt. Who was going to break the silence and bridge the silent interruption? His lack of usual reticence, too, could be sudden, startling and ...

What’s wrong with Desmond?

Ian Hamilton, 30 August 1990

Clever Hearts: Desmond and Molly MacCarthy 
by Hugh Cecil and Mirabel Cecil.
Gollancz, 320 pp., £18.95, July 1990, 0 575 03622 2
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... kind of thing. And yet, somehow, poor MacCarthy: first Leavis and then, shortly afterwards, Geoffrey Grigson, who reserved a large cage for him in New Verse’s private zoo. (Roy Campbell’s notorious assault on Grigson was in fact prompted by something Grigson said about ...

Piperism

William Feaver: John and Myfanwy Piper, 17 December 2009

John Piper, Myfanwy Piper: Lives in Art 
by Frances Spalding.
Oxford, 598 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 0 19 956761 4
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... byways of Old England was disgraceful: he wrote him off vituperously. Piper, however, had allies, Geoffrey Grigson for one (though, characteristically, not for long) and Betjeman, through whom relations were established with the Architectural Review and with whom he became chief scout, as it were, of the Shell Guides. Betjeman’s Cornwall first ...

Blistering Attacks

Claude Rawson, 6 November 1980

The Oxford Book of Satirical Verse 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Oxford, 454 pp., £8.50, September 1980, 0 19 214110 4
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... You wouldn’t guess it from Mr Grigson’s anthology, but satire was once a deadly activity. It literally killed, or was believed to, which sometimes had the same result. Robert Elliott’s classic study of The Power of Satire tells us that poems were used as weapons of war in pre-Islamic Arabia, and it is not only there, or in the curses of primitive tribesmen remote from our literary tradition, that this ‘power’ showed itself ...

Half-Way up the Hill

Frank Kermode, 7 July 1988

Young Betjeman 
by Bevis Hillier.
Murray, 457 pp., £15.95, July 1988, 0 7195 4531 5
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... a friend. Betjeman carefully arranged a claque of reviewers. He did not care for criticism: when Geoffrey Grigson at New Verse turned down his poem about the arrest of Oscar Wilde he stood on the backside of the White Horse at Uffington and cursed him. In these years he must, despite all the appearances, have been working extremely hard. His output ...

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