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Beyond Dubh-Chladach

Robin Robertson, 23 May 2019

... wreath of rowan over the bed, the Bible held open by the rusted shears that made the shape of the cross, the bucket of maistir there against the grey folk, the noiseless ones, and a cup of well-water with the gold ring in it for the three mouthfuls that would save me. And saved we were. He was beautiful, our son: blue-eyed, fair; fresh as meltwater. I took ...

Female Bandits? What next!

Wendy Doniger: The incarnations of Robin Hood, 22 July 2004

Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography 
by Stephen Knight.
Cornell, 247 pp., £14.50, May 2003, 0 8014 3885 3
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... In the 1964 film Robin and the Seven Hoods, when someone compares ‘Robbo’ (Frank Sinatra) to Robin Hood, one of the gangsters asks: ‘Who’s Robin Hood?’ And another replies: ‘Well, he was a hood, some Englishman who lived long ago and had an operation going for him in the forest ...

Out in the Open

Robin Robertson, 25 May 2006

... while. 3. The sun is scorching. The plane comes in low, throwing a shadow in the shape of a giant cross, rushing over the ground. A man crouches over something in the field. The shadow reaches him. For a split-second he is in the middle of the cross. I have seen the cross that hangs from ...

Two Poems

Robin Robertson, 7 February 2013

... you – not even a photograph left of you – the girl who will never touch again the foot of the cross at ...


Robin Robertson, 8 September 2011

... grief, horror, steps through fire and ice. * The Apache’s long night-vision sees the runners cross-haired: the white men. * The command comes through as ghosts scribble the desert: You’re clear to engage. * Pronghorn, jack-rabbit, coyote, javelina, skunk, mountain lion. * Coyotes running people over the border like sand through the ...

The Flaying of Marsyas

Robin Robertson, 28 April 1994

... at each hoof to the higher branches, tied to the root by the hands, flagged as his own white cross, the satyr Marsyas hangs. Three stand as honour guard: two apprentices, one butcher. II Let’s have a look at you, then. Bit scrawny for a satyr, all skin and whipcord, is it? Soon find out. So, think you can turn up with your stag-bones and outplay Lord ...

Beside Loch Iffrin

Robin Robertson, 23 October 2014

... head, dressed in red icicles; Betty Campbell frozen solid in her bath, forehead scored with the cross. I saw Macaulay’s mare with the bleed on the brain going round her field faster and faster till she bolted straight into the stable wall. I saw a fox with a firebrand tied to its tail going over the high cliff, bundled in flames. And off to the west, a ...

March, Lewisboro

Robin Robertson, 19 August 1999

... The estate at dawn hangs like smoke; the forest drawn in grainy bands of smeared, cross-hatched, illegible trees: a botched photocopy of itself. Swamp maple, sugar maple, red and white oak; first light lifts the pale yellow flare of a beech tree’s papery leaves. Where are you going? What on earth’s the time? A salting of snow, blown across the white table of the lake: thrown leaves scrape and scratch the hard new surface, to be fluked away, in another gust, like cards ...

Dionysus in Love

Robin Robertson, 5 April 2012

... Dionysus held back at the sprint, to watch: the god of spark and springheel, the god who would cross continents with a single step stood still, and with one breath blew speed into his love’s young body, lifting it over the line. Their race in the red river was the last test, and glowing Ampelos matched it, red for red, his colour rising as he met ...

Robin’s Hoods

Patrick Wormald, 5 May 1983

Robin Hood 
by J.C. Holt.
Thames and Hudson, 208 pp., £8.95, May 1982, 0 500 25081 2
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The Early History of Glastonbury: An Edition, Translation and Study of William of Malmesbury’s ‘De Antiquitate Glastonie Ecclesie’ 
by John Scott.
Boydell, 224 pp., £25, January 1982, 9780851151540
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by John Michell.
Thames and Hudson, 168 pp., £8.50, March 1982, 9780500012611
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... scepticism by painstaking scholarship). The legends discussed in these books concern Robin Hood, the early history of Glastonbury, and the meaning of the megaliths. Such material poses problems for the professional historian or archaeologist: is it worth the trouble to debunk what are, after all, fairly harmless stories? A society’s legends are ...

What did they do in the war?

Angus Calder, 20 June 1985

Firing Line 
by Richard Holmes.
Cape, 436 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 224 02043 9
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The Right of the Line: The Royal Air Force in the European War 1939-1945 
by John Terraine.
Hodder, 841 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 340 26644 9
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The Bomber Command War Diaries: An Operational Reference Book 
by Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt.
Viking, 804 pp., £25, May 1985, 0 670 80137 2
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’45: The Final Drive from the Rhine to the Baltic 
by Charles Whiting.
Century, 192 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 0 7126 0812 5
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In the Ruins of the Reich 
by Douglas Botting.
Allen and Unwin, 248 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 9780049430365
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1945: The World We Fought For 
by Robert Kee.
Hamish Hamilton, 371 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 241 11531 0
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VE Day: Victory in Europe 1945 
by Robin Cross.
Sidgwick, 223 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 283 99220 4
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One Family’s War 
edited by Patrick Mayhew.
Hutchinson, 237 pp., £10.95, May 1985, 0 7126 0812 5
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Poems of the Second World War: The Oasis Selection 
edited by Victor Selwyn.
Dent, 386 pp., £12, May 1985, 0 460 10432 2
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My Life 
by Bert Hardy.
Gordon Fraser, 192 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 86092 083 6
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Victory in Europe: D Day to VE Day 
by Max Hastings and George Stevens.
Weidenfeld, 192 pp., £10.95, April 1985, 0 297 78650 4
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... their prejudices against each other. All sections of the community enjoyed a good grumble. Robin Cross’s VE Day: Victory in Europe 1945, a commemorative volume which is stronger on domestic than on military matters, notes how queues formed for bread on the very day itself – food shortages were worsening – and records an exchange ‘worthy of ...

Sing the Rat

Ted Hughes, 18 February 1982

... house’s poltergeist, shaped like a shuttle Who longs to join the family Sing his bright face, cross-eyed with eagerness His pin-fingers, that seem too small for the job Sing his split nose, that looks so sore O sing his fearless ears, the listener in the wall Let him jump on your head, let him cling there Save him from sticks and stones Sing the rat so ...

Slice of Life

Colin Burrow: Robin Robertson, 30 August 2018

The Long Take 
by Robin Robertson.
Picador, 256 pp., £14.99, February 2018, 978 1 5098 4688 7
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... Robin Robertson​ is something of a specialist in pain. He usually describes what painful events look like from the outside rather than how they feel from within. It’s often as though sufferers are so entranced by the appearance of what’s happening to them that they can’t actually see how bad it is. There is a fine slight poem from Slow Air (2002) called ‘Break’ in which a woman is washing glasses in the sink and hears a dull click, like a tongue, under the soap suds ...

He don’t mean any harm

John Bayley, 28 June 1990

A.A. Milne: His Life 
by Ann Thwaite.
Faber, 554 pp., £17.50, June 1990, 0 571 13888 8
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... All Flesh, which came out in 1903, not much more than a decade before the begetting of Christopher Robin, in fact and in fiction. Milne may well have thought that he was destroying for ever that awful old father and son relationship, blowing away the tyranny and obfuscation, showing that age doesn’t matter, that nanny will give them sixpence each and they ...

Safe Spaces

Barbara Newman, 21 July 2022

Uncertain Refuge: Sanctuary in the Literature of Medieval England 
by Elizabeth Allen.
Pennsylvania, 311 pp., £52, October 2021, 978 0 8122 5344 3
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... assigned port like pilgrims, barefoot and bare-headed, clad only in a shift and carrying a wooden cross. At the port, they had to board the first available ship or, if there were none sailing, walk into the sea every day as a token of good faith. This procedure was surprisingly routine. In the 13th and early 14th centuries, William Chester Jordan ...

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