In the latest issue:

Boris Johnson’s First Year

Ferdinand Mount

Short Cuts: In the Bunker

Thomas Jones

Theban Power

James Romm

What can the WHO do?

James Meek

At the Type Archive

Alice Spawls

Where the Poor Lived

Alison Light

At the Movies: ‘Da 5 Bloods’

Michael Wood

Cultural Pillaging

Neal Ascherson

Jenny Offill

Adam Mars-Jones

Shakespeare v. the English

Michael Dobson

Poem: ‘Now Is the Cool of the Day’

Maureen N. McLane


David Trotter

Consider the Hare

Katherine Rundell

How Should I Refer to You?

Amia Srinivasan

Poem: ‘Field Crickets (Gryllus campestris)’

Fiona Benson

Diary: In Mali

Rahmane Idrissa

Two PoemsJohn Burnside


Carolus Linnaeus (1707-78)

Weeks out of school: in rainstorms
and grandmothers’ cupboards,
bear-dark in the corners, filigrees
of lacewing
and silt;

the birds we saw in books: merganser, stork;
trees from botanic gardens printed on air;
the words in our minds
like games that would never be finished: names
for moments at sea; or how a skin

is altered by a history of shade: the smallest shift
enough to fix a thing
or make it new: soft
or more evenly mottled; bearing scars
and hairless; or defined for centuries

by how it seemed
emerging from the earth:
fragile dicotyledon smudged with ash,
not sixty feet
of constituted rain.


Imagine they knew already: a loved one
singled out in permafrost, or sand;
fingertips laying stitch-marks in the skin
that might be read; each
wedding-feast or name-day laying claim
to birth marks, dimples, curvatures of bone.
Imagine they treasured scars for what they tell
of summers, traces set into the flesh
for August noons; or winter solstices
remembered in a burn. Imagine it:
not loving less, but more, for knowing time
would quietly erase a lover’s voice,
a grandchild’s hand;

                                  and how, unwittingly,
they planned each afterlife, concealing seed
and pollen in the hemline of a gown,
or carving timberwork with hidden signs,
seasons and gifts that someone else would find.

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