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Anglo-Irish Occasions

Seamus Heaney, 5 May 1988

... the given life, where your possibilities seemed to be no more than the sum of your predicaments. Robert Frost called it ‘a momentary stay against confusion’ and also ‘a clarification’, and it is in this experience of the poem as a personal way of knowledge as well as a psychosomatic process that every poet’s reward must ultimately ...

Short Cuts

Christian Lorentzen: Paul Krugman, 19 July 2012

... to Congress about income inequality, then was excluded from the Clinton administration by Robert Reich, the leader of the economic transition team whom Krugman had attacked in a paper nine years earlier. ‘Luckily for my sanity and future productivity,’ he also wrote in 1995, ‘I did not break through into a role as TV personality.’ Now that ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Hemingway the Spy, 16 February 2017

... was once a blunt instrument of the CIA. Arguably, there’s only so much damage one can do with a Robert Frost interview, but that didn’t stop the late Peter Matthiessen, one of the founding editors, from now and then leaving the office, or the Himalayas, to spy on supposed enemies of the United States. Matthiessen later said he had used the magazine ...

Loose Woven

Peter Howarth: Edward Thomas’s contingencies, 4 August 2005

Collected Poems 
by Edward Thomas, edited by R. George Thomas.
Faber, 264 pp., £12.99, October 2004, 0 571 22260 9
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... write any poems until the autumn of 1914. Thinking over their genesis afterwards, his friend Robert Frost commented that ‘the decision he made in going into the army helped him make the other decision in form.’ This is both a simple material explanation and perhaps also a piece of soul-searching. Frost knew ...

Weasel, Magpie, Crow

Mark Ford: Edward Thomas, 1 January 2009

Edward Thomas: The Annotated Collected Poems 
edited by Edna Longley.
Bloodaxe, 335 pp., £12, June 2008, 978 1 85224 746 1
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... May 1914, some six months before his late efflorescence into verse at the age of 36, he wrote to Robert Frost of his longing to ‘wring all the necks of my rhetoric – the geese’. He was referring to the over-elaborate style of some of his prose writings, but his first poem, ‘Up in the Wind’, composed on 3 December 1914, opens with a version of ...
Selected Literary Criticism of Louis MacNeice 
edited by Alan Heuser.
Oxford, 279 pp., £19.50, March 1987, 0 19 818573 1
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... from 1931 to the year of his death, 1963: mostly reviews of Yeats, Eliot, Auden, Dylan Thomas, Robert Frost, a few cultural pronouncements, comments on translations of Greek tragedies – he was happy schoolmastering Gilbert Murray, R.C. Trevelyan, Robert Fitzgerald, and Christopher Logue – and some lively words ...

I fret and fret

Adam Phillips: Edward Thomas, 5 November 2015

Edward Thomas: From Adelstrop to Arras 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 480 pp., £25, May 2015, 978 1 4081 8713 5
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... or rather my studied self-contempt is now nearly a disease.’ Finally in 1913 he meets Robert Frost, newly arrived from America, starts writing poetry and joins the army, to die four years later in combat in France. It is a frantic and harassed life in many ways, but Wilson tells her story at just the right pace, with patience and ...


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

... I remember saying to my pupil Miss Schloss: ‘Miss Schloss, I suggest you might read the poems of Robert Frost.’ Miss Schloss drew herself up and said in a piercingly reproachful voice: ‘I don’t read, I write, Mr Spender.’ I nearly ruined the afternoon of one of my poet colleagues by mentioning the name of one of his contemporaries (a charming ...

In Praise of Difficult Children

Adam Phillips, 12 February 2009

... that truancy is good and that the rules are good. ‘The most beautiful thing in the world,’ Robert Frost wrote in his Notebooks, ‘is conflicting interests when both are good.’ Someone with a truant mind believes that conflict is the point, not the problem. The job of the truant mind is to keep conflict as alive as possible, which means that ...

On Loathing Rees-Mogg

Nicholas Spice, 21 February 2019

... the exception to the adage ‘Nomen est omen’: she should have been called Theresa Must. Pace Robert Frost, something there is in me that doesn’t love a wall, that wants it down, and I suppose many Remainers feel the same. For Leavers – being remainers at heart, who find safety in permanence, who are perhaps a little prone to agoraphobia – the ...

On Douglas Crase

Matthew Bevis, 5 December 2019

... to experiment. It plays host to some unlikely double acts, with the ‘sentency stanzas’ of Robert Frost found alongside the ‘stanzaic sentences’ of Gertrude Stein, and it stretches from Whitman to Ashbery, both innovators in poetical-paragraphical style – ‘big blocks of words, prosy chunks that in the sequential and cumulative effects can ...


Ian Hamilton: Self-Exposure at the Football Terrace, 2 September 1982

... earlier to Lucian [sic] Freud and by her third marriage to the illustrious American poet, the late Robert Frost. Frost and Blackwood? It’s a nice idea, but really ... In the matter of self-accusation, though, Davie makes Lord Longford seem trivial. The Barnsley poet’s grapplings are sombre and serpentine, and even ...

Some Names for Robert Lowell

Karl Miller, 19 May 1983

Robert Lowell: A Biography 
by Ian Hamilton.
Faber, 527 pp., £12.50, May 1983, 0 571 13045 3
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... Robert Lowell is not difficult to represent as the mad poet and justified sinner of the Romantic heritage. He is the dual personality who breaks the rules, kicks over the traces: he did this in the course of a series of manic highs which came and went from maturity, if not before, until the end of his life in 1977 at the age of 60 ...

Ashamed of the Planet

Ian Hamilton, 2 March 2000

No Other Book: Selected Essays 
by Randall Jarrell, edited by Brad Leithauser.
HarperCollins, 376 pp., $27.50, June 1999, 0 06 118012 2
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Remembering Randall: A Memoir of Poet, Critic and Teacher Randall Jarrell 
by Mary von Schrader Jarrell.
HarperCollins, 173 pp., $22, June 1999, 0 06 118011 4
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... cut. The quotation ends with ‘What unfailing taste he possessed’ – full stop.) Jarrell, as Robert Lowell once observed, was actually more of a eulogist than a destroyer and it was in the realm of eulogy that his weakness for near-spluttering exaggeration was at its most off-putting. When Jarrell admired a writer, that writer had to be vaunted to the ...

Being two is half the fun

John Bayley, 4 July 1985

Multiple Personality and the Disintegration of Literary Character 
by Jeremy Hawthorn.
Edward Arnold, 146 pp., £15, May 1983, 0 7131 6398 4
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Doubles: Studies in Literary History 
by Karl Miller.
Oxford, 488 pp., £19.50, June 1985, 9780198128410
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The Doubleman 
by C.J. Koch.
Chatto, 326 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 9780701129453
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... contradictions of his being most subtly and most dramatically. In The Double in Literature (1970) Robert Rogers pointed out that the young captain narrator ‘symbolically summoned his double’ by leaving a rope-ladder dangling over the side, as if in a tale by Hoffmann, whom Conrad mentions elsewhere, and that the story conjures up the contrasting sides of ...

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