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‘I was such a lovely girl’

Barbara Newman: The Songs of the Medieval Troubadours, 25 May 2006

Lark in the Morning: The Verses of the Troubadours 
translated by Ezra Pound, W.D. Snodgrass and Robert Kehew, edited by Robert Kehew.
Chicago, 280 pp., £35, May 2005, 0 226 42933 4
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Medieval Lyric: Middle English Lyrics, Ballads and Carols 
edited by John Hirsh.
Blackwell, 220 pp., £17.99, August 2004, 1 4051 1482 7
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An Anthology of Ancient and Medieval Woman’s Song 
edited by Anne Klinck.
Palgrave, 208 pp., £19.99, May 2004, 9781403963109
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... or women poets. Of the translators, all poets, Ezra Pound is represented by 15 songs, W.D. Snodgrass by 19, and Kehew by 21, conveniently arranged on facing pages opposite their originals. For his indelibly quirky, archaising versions, Pound favoured the verse of the bellicose Bertran de Born (whom Dante condemned to hell as a fomentor of strife) and ...

Fame at last

Elaine Showalter, 7 November 1991

Anne Sexton: A Biography 
by Diane Wood Middlebrook.
Virago, 488 pp., £20, November 1991, 1 85381 406 7
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... Part Way Back (1960), the poem shows Sexton’s craft, honed with advice from John Holmes, W.D. Snodgrass and Robert Lowell. Retrieved at the last moment from her ‘bone pile’ of discards to fill out the book, it had gone through 19 drafts before Sexton achieved what Middlebrook calls the ‘double “I” ’ of the stanza and refrain. It was not ...

Main Man

Michael Hofmann, 7 July 1994

Walking Possession: Essays and Reviews 1968-1993 
by Ian Hamilton.
Bloomsbury, 302 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 7475 1712 6
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Gazza Italia 
by Ian Hamilton.
Granta, 188 pp., £5.99, May 1994, 0 14 014073 5
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... a total faith in pure intelligence’); a demand for intensity, for what Hamilton calls in W.D. Snodgrass ‘a voice at once poised and inflamed’. Compared to that sort of engaged criticism, the writing on poetry in Walking Possession is either knockabout or demurral. One suspects the subjects have been chosen specially. They are ...

Sweaney Peregraine

Paul Muldoon, 1 November 1984

Station Island 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 123 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 571 13301 0
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Sweeney Astray: A Version 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 85 pp., £6.95, October 1984, 0 571 13360 6
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Rich 
by Craig Raine.
Faber, 109 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 571 13215 4
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... of yourself than you redeem doing the decent thing. Keep at a tangent. When they make the circle wide, it’s time to swim out on your own and fill the element with signatures on your own frequency, echo soundings, searches, probes, allurements, elver-gleams in the dark of the whole sea.’ If these meetings with writers seem a touch self-regarding (the ...

Follow-the-Leader

Colm Tóibín: Bishop v. Lowell, 14 May 2009

Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell 
edited by Thomas Travisano and Saskia Hamilton.
Faber, 875 pp., £40, November 2008, 978 0 571 24308 2
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... they think they’d like to say. The following year she wrote to Lowell to complain about W.D. Snodgrass’s personal poems, calling Snodgrass ‘one of your better imitators’ and saying: ‘You tell things – but never wind up with your own darling gestures, the way he does … I went straight through Life Studies ...

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