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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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... 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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Omens

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 ...

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 ...

Jesus Christ endorses the new Hillman Imp

Robert Crawford, 5 August 1993

... I was in our works canteen when a call Came over the tannoy to watch him endorse the new car. As he bent and touched it, he said, ‘This product will save your area For another decade; it will be loved Equally by US management And families whom its air-cooled rear engine Will power to school. I’m saying this That you may take a pride in your work ...

Two Poems

Robert Crawford, 23 September 2010

... Piano If I could read music And play the piano I’d interrupt you With no notice Wherever you are In some seminar In Edinburgh Or sitting alone In your office. Today I’d haul my piano In medias res And play Like Géza Anda, Like Alfred Brendel, Like Frédéric Chopin, Like Claude Debussy, Like all the alphabet Of subtle pianists So impossibly When we kissed It would make us both cry ...

Love Poems for Alice with Old Cars

Robert Crawford, 25 April 1991

... In the new dream I give you a big-radiatored 100-miles-on-a-gallon-of-water steamcar Exported by the White Sewing Machine Co, Cleveland, Ohio. You scoot with aplomb Through Alexandria to Loch Lomond past the indigenous Argyll Motors Factory with its built-to-last Stone car over the door. People call you odd, Determined, unchaperoned, ‘fast’. Your wheels cover Scotland, familiar and intimate, Tin-Lizzying Right up Ben Nevis, mass-produced, Laughing with the dash of the woman driver’s TS1, first car in Dundee ...

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