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7 March 2019
Poems of Sextus​ Propertius 
edited and translated by Patrick Worsnip.
Carcanet, 253 pp., £12.99, September 2018, 978 1 78410 651 5
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... Not much​ is known about Propertius beyond what he says or implies about himself in the four books of elegies he wrote between roughly 30 BC (when he was probably in his mid to late twenties) and about 16 BC. He was born in Assisi and ...

Condy’s Fluid

P.N. Furbank

25 October 1990
A War Imagined: The First World War and English Culture 
by Samuel Hynes.
Bodley Head, 514 pp., £20, October 1990, 0 370 30451 9
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Killing in Verse and Prose, and Other Essays 
by Paul Fussell.
Bellew, 294 pp., £9.95, October 1990, 0 947792 55 4
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... a great age for English literature. Those few years produced Joyce’s Ulysses, Yeats’s The Wild Swans at Coole and his great verse-play At the Hawk’s Well, Ezra Pound’s Cathay and ‘Homage to SextusPropertius’ and Eliot’s quatrain poems. None of these four writers allowed the war to deflect them in their poetic career, nor was there any reason why they should have done, seeing that they ...

Fallen Language

Donald Davie

21 June 1984
The Lords of Limit: Essays on Literature and Ideas 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Deutsch, 203 pp., £12.95, May 1984, 0 233 97581 0
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... interlarded French, then what is its function? It is related surely to what Hill in ‘Our Word is Our Bond’ excellently defines as the effect of the quotation-marks in Pound’s Homage to SextusPropertius and Hugh Selwyn Mauberley: ‘the effect is not that of avoiding the rap but rather of recording the rapping noise made by those things which the world throws at us in the form of prejudice and ...

War and Pax

Claude Rawson

2 July 1981
War Music. An Account of Books 16 to 19 of Homer’s ‘Iliad’ 
by Christopher Logue.
Cape, 83 pp., £3.95, May 1981, 0 224 01534 6
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Ode to the Dodo. Poems from 1953 to 1978 
by Christopher Logue.
Cape, 176 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 224 01892 2
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Under the North Star 
by Ted Hughes and Leonard Baskin.
Faber, 47 pp., £5.95, April 1981, 9780571117215
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Ted Hughes: The Unaccommodated Universe 
by Ekbert Faas.
Black Swallow Press, 229 pp., June 1983, 0 87685 459 5
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Myth in the Poetry of Ted Hughes 
by Stuart Hirschberg.
Wolfhound, 239 pp., £8.50, April 1981, 0 905473 50 7
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Ted Hughes: A Critical Study 
by Terry Gifford and Neil Roberts.
Faber, 288 pp., £9.50, April 1981, 0 571 11701 5
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... of ‘poetical imitation’ and belongs to a perfectly good tradition of English poems based on or played off against an older (often Classical) original. A modern model might be Pound’s Homage to SextusPropertius, which it resembles in its style of selective ironic commentary and in some Poundian mannerisms, as in the jeering lyricism of the scene where Thetis calls together her sister Nereids ...

Snap Me

Peter Howarth: ‘A Theory of 20th-Century Poetry’

5 October 2016
Poetic Artifice: A Theory of 20th-Century Poetry 
by Veronica Forrest-Thomson, edited by Gareth Farmer.
Shearsman, 238 pp., £16.95, April 2016, 978 1 84861 445 1
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... one wills but one wills what it writes.But her insistence on wresting poetry away from non-poetic life also produces some of her more flamboyant misreadings. In a chapter on Pound’s ‘Homage to SextusPropertius’ she borrows an idea from her then husband Jonathan Culler’s Structuralist Poetics: that the ‘orientational features of language which refer to the situation of utterance’ – ...
4 June 1981
Translating Neruda: The Way to Macchu Picchu 
by John Felstiner.
Stanford, 284 pp., $18.50, December 1980, 0 8047 1079 1
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The Oxford Book of Verse in English Translation 
edited by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 608 pp., £12.95, October 1980, 0 19 214103 1
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... lamented the absence of such paraphernalia, he had in mind Pope’s first stabs at the Iliad, or what Pound said to his friends à propos frigidaire patents and ancient, respected Wordsworthians in SextusPropertius. Sadly, Felstiner’s work is a far cry from what either Pope or Pound achieved. The fifth chapter of his book, ingenuous and revealing as it is, allows one to see why: he comes across as ...

Little Lame Balloonman

August Kleinzahler: E.E. Cummings

8 October 2014
E.E. Cummings: The Complete Poems, 1904-62 
edited by George James Firmage.
Liveright, 1102 pp., £36, September 2013, 978 0 87140 710 8
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E.E. Cummings: A Life 
by Susan Cheever.
Pantheon, 209 pp., £16, February 2014, 978 0 307 37997 9
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... Weiss, a Jew, objected and had Cummings change it. The book won the Harriet Monroe Poetry Prize and a fellowship of $5000 from the Academy of American Poets. But this is not the author of Homage to SextusPropertius, The Waste Land or Journey to the End of Night. This is the poet celebrated for: In Just- spring      when the world is mud- luscious the little lame balloonman whistles    far ...

Saved by the Ant’s Fore-Foot

David Trotter: Pound’s Martyrology

7 July 2005
The Pisan Cantos 
by Ezra Pound, edited by Richard Sieburth.
New Directions, 159 pp., $13.95, October 2003, 9780811215589
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Poems and Translations 
by Ezra Pound, edited by Richard Sieburth.
Library of America, 1363 pp., $45, October 2003, 1 931082 41 3
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... bare in ways that direct utterance, of which Pound was perfectly capable, does not. Personae was the title Pound gave in 1926 to his collected shorter poems. The most complex of them, ‘Homage to SextusPropertius’, is usually interpreted in the light of his subsequent assertion that it expresses emotions as ‘vital’ to him ‘in 1917, faced with the infinite and ineffable imbecility of the ...

Imagine Tintin

Michael Hofmann: Basil Bunting

9 January 2014
A Strong Song Tows Us: The Life of Basil Bunting 
by Richard Burton.
Infinite Ideas, 618 pp., £30, September 2013, 978 1 908984 18 0
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... years, assembled from beauty, learning, satire and irreverence. The Bunting who in the early 1920s and in his own early twenties first approached Pound, wrote: ‘I believed then, as now, that his “Propertius” was the finest of modern poems. Indeed, it was the one that gave me the notion that poetry wasn’t altogether impossible in the XX century.’ Pound, I think, remained for Bunting the poet of ...

Blackfell’s Scarlatti

August Kleinzahler: Basil Bunting

21 January 1999
The Poet as Spy: The Life and Wild Times of Basil Bunting 
by Keith Alldritt.
Aurum, 221 pp., £19.95, October 1998, 1 85410 477 2
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... in public. He remained good friends with Dorothy and took considerable interest in the Pounds’ son Omar. Wordsworth and Whitman were Bunting’s earliest masters, but the Pound of ‘Homage to SextusPropertius’ was the chief influence of his twenties and further along still. The concentration of sharply observed detail, the flexible rhythms determined by musical phrase instead of fixed metres ...

Literary Friction

Jenny Turner: Kathy Acker’s Ashes

18 October 2017
After Kathy Acker: A Literary Biography 
by Chris Kraus.
Allen Lane, 352 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 1 63590 006 4
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... When she was 16, she had a summer of love with the film scholar P. Adams Sitney, who was about to go to Yale. ‘Sitney’s poetic passions that summer included Charles Olson, Ezra Pound, Virgil and SextusPropertius.’ He also introduced his girlfriend to Andy Warhol, Jack Smith, Carolee Schneemann. ‘Her eyes opened wide.’In later years, Acker often said that she had studied linguistics under ...

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