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One word says to its mate

Claire Harman: W.S. Graham

4 October 2001
The Nightfisherman: Selected Letters of W.S. Graham 
edited by Michael Snow and Margaret Snow.
Carcanet, 401 pp., £12.95, November 1999, 1 85754 445 5
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... him a sizable audience. The Nightfisherman, a selection of Graham’s letters by his friends Michael and Margaret Snow, with 19 poems, photographs, drawings and his essay ‘Notes on a Poetry of Release’, is the most useful and revealing book on the poet yet published and sets out the clearest record of his ...

Five Poems

Günter Eich, translated by Michael Hofmann

23 June 2005
... always loved nettles, and only now learned of their usefulness. Confined to Bed Angina days, blue snow, time tucked away in cut-out arches, time is blue, time is snow, red sleeves, black hat, time is a yellow woman. Angina days, Swiss, blue Devon, black Cambrium, commedia dell’arte time, slipper red and Silurian red, wall ...

Digital Recordings

Michael Hofmann

20 June 1985
... below me – the presumed foundations, whichever of God’s creatures left their prints in the snow and didn’t turn aside, the taped felt undercarpet worn down by unknowns and by the organist of Chelmsford Cathedral – but I bring into it Trevor from downstairs, security guard at HMV and abject night-time guitarist, tapping his foot into a pile of ...

Three Poems

John Burnside

10 September 2014
... and strange, with a sister’s disdain, or a grandmother’s folded smile. Confiteor for Michael Krüger I heard something out by the gate and went to look. Dead of night; new snow, the larch woods filling slowly, stars beneath the stars. A single cry it was, or so it seemed, though nothing I had recognised as ...

Last Word

John Charap

19 November 1981
The Physicists: A Generation that Changed the World 
by C.P. Snow.
Macmillan, 191 pp., £8.95, September 1981, 0 333 32228 2
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... At the time of his death in July of last year, C.P. Snow was working on this book. Its theme is the two-faced gift of physics and its applications, and of those who in not much over a generation have changed our world. Although he had completed only a first draft, his publishers have done well to let us have the book, for it is Snow at his best ...

Two Poems

John Burnside

20 September 2001
... seem permanent, and ours; before it disappears, I will have named all we can see, from here to the snow on Kvannfjellet, the yarrow in the grass, a passing swan, eider and black-backed gull at the rim of the sound. I gloss uncertainties – this lime green weed that fetches up a yard above the tide; those seabirds in the channel, too far out to call for ...

Two Poems

Michael Longley

19 February 2004
... the sea seeps up the street Depositing between boulder-sized cobbles sand And the feathers of snowy egrets and frigate birds, We meet the hare again, an ‘indigenous artefact’, And want to know everything about the animal, Its crouching body carved out of cajeto, ears Slotted into the skull, the unexpected markings (Blotches of butum oil) that ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Force Majeure’, ‘Clouds of Sils Maria’

6 May 2015
Force Majeure 
directed by Ruben Östlund.
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Clouds of Sils Maria 
directed by Olivier Assayas.
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... family comfortably piled in large bed. When things move they are usually mechanical: ski lifts, snowploughs, vacuum cleaners. This is a world not only without surprises but designed to cancel the very idea of surprise. Skiing is not an adventure, just a slide in a nature park. Even the avalanches are controlled, as we are informed several times: small ...

Tortoises with Zips

David Craig: The Snow Geese by William Fiennes

4 April 2002
The Snow Geese 
by William Fiennes.
Picador, 250 pp., £14.99, March 2002, 0 330 37578 4
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... about the swifts is part of a plan that knits together his quest for the breeding ground of snow geese in North-East Canada and his alternation between dependence on home and an urge to hive off. Having Paul Gallico’s Snow Goose read to him at prep school, rediscovering the novella in a hotel when he was ...

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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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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... him, and he travels westward in the story’s visionary conclusion to do battle with the shade of Michael Furey. Snow is ‘general over Ireland’ while he does so; not only here, but in Muldoon’s last collection Hay, the colour white functions as a motif of death. One of Louis MacNeice’s best-known poems is about ...
22 August 1996
Life of a Poet: Rainer Maria Rilke 
by Ralph Freedman.
Farrar, Straus, 640 pp., $35, March 1996, 0 374 18690 1
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Uncollected Poems 
by Rainer Maria Rilke and Edward Snow.
North Point Press/Farrar, Straus, 266 pp., $22, March 1996, 0 86547 482 6
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Rilke’s ‘Duino Elegies’: Cambridge Readings 
edited by Roger Paulin and Peter Hutchinson.
Duckworth/Ariadne, 237 pp., £30, March 1996, 1 57241 032 9
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... were finished, speaking of himself, as late as 1915, as ‘a beginner who can’t begin’. Edward Snow, in his Introduction to Uncollected Poems, calls this ‘sheer mythologising’, and reminds us that Rilke wrote poems prolifically and all the time – ‘in letters, in guest books, in presentation copies, and above all in the notebooks he always carried ...

Praying for an end

Michael Hofmann

30 January 1992
Scenes from a Disturbed Childhood 
by Adam Czerniawski.
Serpent’s Tail, 167 pp., £9.99, October 1991, 1 85242 241 6
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Crossing: The Discovery of Two Islands 
by Jakov Lind.
Methuen, 222 pp., £14.99, November 1991, 0 413 17640 1
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The Unheeded Warning 1918-1933 
by Manes Sperber, translated by Harry Zohn.
Holmes & Meier, 216 pp., £17.95, December 1991, 0 8419 1032 4
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... power. Returning to bombed Warsaw in 1940: ‘The cactuses on the balcony were covered in snow. Under the snow they were green but they collapsed like punctured balloons when the snow was removed.’ That seems to me to be worth pages and pages of description and ...
6 February 1986
Stroke Counterstroke 
by William Camp.
Joseph, 190 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 7181 2669 6
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Redhill Rococo 
by Shena Mackay.
Heinemann, 171 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 434 44046 9
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by Michael Irwin.
Deutsch, 231 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 233 97792 9
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... wasn’t even surprising thirty years ago when made by a novelist who had no sense of humour. C.P. Snow’s Corridors of Power is a chore to read now, at least as far as the young are concerned. They don’t care very much that it struck a chord among a mandarin élite which was rapidly becoming disillusioned. Nevertheless, in the course of that novel ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Murder on the Orient Express’

30 November 2017
Murder on the Orient Express 
directed by Kenneth Brannagh.
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... there a (fictional) man behind the moustache? Well, there is a director, who is also Branagh, and Michael Green, a thoughtful and inventive scriptwriter. They give shape and sense to a particular notion of Poirot. But it is Branagh’s acting that makes the notion work. I say this as a non-fan of his Shakespeare films (Hamlet, Henry V, Much Ado about ...

He wants me no more

Tessa Hadley: Pamela Hansford Johnson

21 January 2016
Pamela Hansford Johnson: Her Life, Works and Times 
by Wendy Pollard.
Shepheard-Walwyn, 500 pp., £25, October 2014, 978 0 85683 298 7
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... they vaguely knew the name but couldn’t place it – until I said she was married to C.P. Snow and then they vaguely remembered that too. They were much clearer about him: the two cultures argument, and Leavis’s vituperation, and some novels revolving around Cambridge colleges. Someone had read one of those novels long ago but couldn’t remember ...

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