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Lapidary

Rosamund Stanhope, 4 February 1988

... The sea inspects its minutiae, rotating with an equal indulgence plastic, bladder wrack, eel-grass rejects nefarious oil-slicks, birling them up to the selvedge of high tide, relinquishing coral topaz, amber, jade; resumes its proper office of rolling dead sailors, cold engines over and over in its green looms, with the nonchalance of neutrality; it observes at one remove the blistering shipwreck, the shot face; like Switzerland, never taking sides in important quarrels; but revolving with an impartial forbearance Seemann and matelot the bones of Kapitanleutnant and Commander crafting them with a lapidary talent, as it crafts other pebbles ...

Seeing yourself dead

Nicolas Tredell, 21 February 1991

Love in a Life 
by Andrew Motion.
Faber, 62 pp., £11.99, March 1991, 0 571 16101 4
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Three Variations on the Theme of Harm: Selected Poetry and Prose 
by Douglas Oliver.
Paladin, 255 pp., £6.99, November 1990, 0 586 08962 4
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Spoils of War 
by John Eppel.
Carrefour Press, 48 pp., August 1989, 0 620 13315 5
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Music for Brass 
by Brian Waltham.
Peterloo, 64 pp., £5.95, November 1990, 1 871471 20 6
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Lapidary 
by Rosamund Stanhope.
Peterloo, 64 pp., £5.95, November 1990, 1 871471 19 2
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... I was almost there, almost lived it, That childhood under the elms echoing With laughter ... Rosamund Stanhope enjoys piling up terms from scientific lexicons, such as those of botany and astronomy, and summoning up recondite or archaic words like alkahest, padusoy and whigmaleerie. This sometimes recalls the arcane accumulations at the start of ...

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