In the latest issue:

Loathed by Huysmans

Julian Barnes

Too early or too late?

David Runciman

Short Cuts: ‘Parallel Lives’

Tom Crewe

Society as a Broadband Network

William Davies

Indefinite Lent

Thomas Jones

In 1348

James Meek

The House of York

John Guy

At the Movies: Pasolini’s ‘Teorema’

Michael Wood

Secrets are like sex

Neal Ascherson

Poem: ‘The Bannisters’

Paul Muldoon

Clarice Lispector

Rivka Galchen

Marius Petipa

Simon Morrison

At the Foundling Museum: ‘Portraying Pregnancy’

Joanne O’Leary

Caroline Gordon v. Flannery O’Connor

Rupert Thomson


Joe Dunthorne

Poem: ‘The Reach of the Sea’

Maureen N. McLane

Diary: Where water used to be

Rosa Lyster

How to set up an ICU

Lana Spawls

Follow the Science

James Butler

One would think the deep to be hoaryOliver Reynolds
Vol. 7 No. 15 · 5 September 1985

One would think the deep to be hoary

Oliver Reynolds

223 words

for Sebastian Barry

Possible seals disappearing
far-out off Pembrokeshire,
sleek commas suddenly lost
in the sea’s murky prose,

came back to me (memories
taking a year to surface)
as we returned at midnight
from the Laird and Dog.

It was our daily goal,
two poets retreating
from a Writers’ Retreat
to beer’s bitter salve.

We’d walk out at twilight,
up a drive squeezed through firs,
shuttled over by crows
readying for the night

(or once, flung from their nests,
fissile, by a donkey’s blaring
Bronx roars through Midlothian
in fractured Trombonese)

and return, talking poetry
in the half-seas-over dark,
down the drive’s black on black
curving into deeper dark.

And from poetry, to language:
the world Flitched and hung up
in all the different words
in all the different tongues.

Beneath firs weighed by sleeping crows
seal was named in Gaelic:
madra na mara,
the dog of the sea

while the Welsh one waited,
forgotten and sunk
in the dictionary:
morlo, forlorn morlo

only remaining as an image,
greys glint-slicked on distance
and then reclaimed by the sea
bulking in from Ireland.

Seeing them dive again,
ripples bodied through water,
I wondered if they could hear
those unfathomable sounds

of our jukebox favourite,
‘Memphis, Tennessee’, when Chuck Berry
stretches a guitar-string to boom
solid echoes like whales courting.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences