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Robert Crawford

Robert Crawford, 27 October 1988

... You’re interrupted in the book of the film By someone ringing who’s just seen your name As the title of an opera. You remember that doctor in Mallaig Born long before Disney and baptised Donald Duck. What could he have felt? Normality’s strange – Always more of it gets delivered in cartons With the names washed off. Maybe next century We’ll have extra labels: a noun for the sensation Of hearing Philip Glass while being driven in a Citroen Or of sitting down to eat a bag of chips With two historians of mesmerism near Inverkeithing ...
... There seem to have been several Oliver Norths. There was Oliver North the Patriot, whom Robert McFarlane would describe as ‘an imaginative, aggressive, committed young officer’, Ronald Reagan’s personally approved ‘hero’. There was Oliver North the Man of God, the born-again Christian from the charismatic Episcopal Church of the Apostles who believed that the Lord had healed his wounds and who – in the words of one former associate at the National Security Council – ‘thought he was doing God’s work at the NSC ...
We and They, Civic and Despotic Cultures 
by Robert Conquest.
Temple Smith, 252 pp., £12.50, April 1980, 0 85117 184 2
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The Recovery of Freedom 
by Paul Johnson.
Blackwell, 232 pp., £8.50, August 1980, 0 631 12562 0
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... In reviewing one of these books, I must ‘declare an interest’. Paul Johnson’s is a volume in the Mainstream Series of which I am an editor, although I have had no connection with this collection of essays other than strongly approving in principle that he should publish some of his most pungent and vigorous articles, which would otherwise have remained buried in journals and newspapers ...
... Our objective,’ said President Botha of South Africa on 9 September of the aims of his National Party-dominated government, ‘is peaceful reform. Reform can only be retarded by outside attempts to interfere.’ Both statements are false, and calculated to mislead. But they may well flow from a genuine failure on the part of South Africa’s ruling oligarchy to understand the depth and breadth of that country’s continuing crisis ...

The Dalswinton Enlightenment

Robert Crawford, 21 January 1988

... Dalswinton Loch. A landscape painter, Alexander Naysmith Perches on deck beside his good friend, Robert Bums. It’s a calm, clear morning. The painter will later invent The compression rivet, and work out the axial arrangement Between propeller and engine. The poet will write about the light Of science dawning over Europe, remembering how Cold sun struck ...

Bard of Friendly Fire

Robert Crawford: The Radical Burns, 25 July 2002

Robert Burns: Poems 
edited by Don Paterson.
Faber, 96 pp., £4.99, February 2001, 0 571 20740 5
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The Canongate Burns: The Complete Poems and Songs of Robert Burns 
edited by Andrew Noble and Patrick Scott Hogg.
Canongate, 1017 pp., £40, November 2001, 0 86241 994 8
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... Aberdeen philosopher Thomas Blackwell was writing that Homer was a ‘stroling indigent Bard’. Robert Burns liked that idea. In ‘Love and Liberty’ a bard sings alongside prostitutes and tinkers, and pronounces himself ‘Homer like’. Burns’s footnote (Burns enjoyed footnotes) points out cheekily that ‘Homer is allowed to be the oldest ...

Outbreaks of Poets

Robert Crawford, 15 June 2023

The Treasuries: Poetry Anthologies and the Making of British Culture 
by Clare Bucknell.
Head of Zeus, 344 pp., £27.99, February, 978 1 80024 144 2
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... included verse in Middle English, Latin, Old French and Old English as well as the language of Robert Browning (‘Oh, to be in England’), Linton Kwesi Johnson (‘Inglan is a Bitch’) and T.S. Eliot (‘History is now and England’). I had got as far as setting out the rationale for such a book in a lecture at the British Academy when the Penguin and ...

Two Poems

Robert Crawford, 12 November 1998

... here, he waits to meet my mother, For a first date at St Martin in the Fields. Here, his father, Robert, catches light On his own deathbed, pipe and Press and Journal Combusting in a way none can control. Manse rooms huddle, fill with Shetland ponies, London tubes. There is no here. Here goes. En te oikia tou Patros mou monai pollai eisin: In my Father’s ...

Looking for a Crucifixion

Robert Alter, 9 September 1993

The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered 
by Robert Eisenman and Michael Wise.
Element, 286 pp., £14.95, November 1992, 0 85230 368 8
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... Baigent and Richard Leigh in The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception, which is largely a popularisation of Robert Eisenman’s theories. Unsurprisingly, Baigent and Leigh contribute an effusive blurb to this book. Eisenman for his part has been putting himself forward as the embattled champion of a campaign (crowned with success a year ago) to liberate the Scrolls ...

Native Questions

Robert Crawford, 6 July 1989

... Ghosts with lightning eyes, peeled Aboriginal corpses Gather insects through imported gloaming Catechised in Auld Kirk Gaelic. After Culloden this land was possessed, Settled in a trance of cash. Mraat, ghosts with interrogating eyes, Go walkabout in Caledonia Australis ...

Conditions of Employment

Robert Crawford, 4 November 1993

... Middle-managers drowned while whitewater-rafting Will be promoted posthumously. How can you expect to succeed in accounts If you’re scared of the bobsleigh? Jackie, When you’ve finished the MD’s filing And watered his plants, just open a window, Slip into your lycra shorts And abseil down to my office ...


Robert Crawford, 19 August 2004

... after the Gaelic of the ‘Carmina Gadelica’ Monday at 6 a.m. I heard a lamb, And then, while I sat by, A snipe’s kid-cry. I saw the cuckoo, grey as slate Before I ate. On Tuesday, late, A slimy flagstone shone Where snails had gone, And the wheatear, like Ash off a dyke, Flapped where the old mare’s black Foal stumbled and turned its back. I sensed right there, Right then a right bad year ...

Weathering the storm

Robert Blake, 18 October 1984

Lord Liverpool: The Life and Political Career of Robert Banks Jenkinson, Second Earl of Liverpool 1770-1828 
by Norman Gash.
Weidenfeld, 265 pp., £16.95, August 1984, 0 297 78453 6
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... the current prime minister to overcome his father’s opposition to his marriage? The answer is Robert Jenkinson, second Earl of Liverpool and eighth baronet, whose maternal grandmother, wife of a Nabob, was Eurasian. He is one of the neglected figures of history. Yet he was prime minister for 15 years from 1812 to 1827, till in February at the age of 56 he ...

Male Infertility

Robert Crawford, 24 August 1995

... Slouched there in the Aston Martin On its abattoir of upholstery He escapes To the storming of the undersea missile silo, The satellite rescue, the hydrofoil That hits the beach, becoming a car With Q’s amazing state-of-the-art, State-of-the-art, state-of-the-art ... Suddenly he has this vision Of a sperm in a boyhood sex-ed film As a speargun-carrying, tadpole-flippered frogman Whose vizor fills up with tears, And of living forever in a dinner-jacket Fussier and fussier about what to drink ...


Robert Tashman, 9 March 1995

directed by Robert Altman.
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... a big business, but not, as it is now, a corporate power that crosses national and class borders. Robert Altman’s new film, Prêt-à-Porter, is like La Dolce Vita grafted onto Funny Face. The unaffected and trusting Hepburn and Astaire would be marginalised or crushed in the fashion world portrayed here. Altman has never enjoyed a sustained period of ...

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