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Loathed by Huysmans

Julian Barnes

Too early or too late?

David Runciman

Short Cuts: Five Victorian Marriages

Tom Crewe

Society as a Broadband Network

William Davies

Fifteen days from now

Thomas Jones

In 1348

James Meek

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Whitehall Spookery

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Poem: ‘The Bannisters’

Paul Muldoon

Clarice Lispector

Rivka Galchen

Marius Petipa

Simon Morrison

At the Foundling Museum: ‘Portraying Pregnancy’

Joanne O’Leary

Gordon v. O’Connor

Rupert Thomson

Revism

Joe Dunthorne

Poem: ‘The Reach of the Sea’

Maureen N. McLane

Diary: Where water used to be

Rosa Lyster

The Lion TreeJamie McKendrick
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Alexander Cornelius mentions a tree called the lion-tree, the timber of which he says was used to build the Argo . . . which cannot be rotted by water or destroyed by fire . . . This tree is, so far as I am aware, unknown to anyone else.

Pliny the Elder

May well be extinct, and our one authority

is terse, but that surely speaks in his favour.
No wonder its timber was used on the Argo
– the ship that rent old Neptune’s slumber –
for in contact with seawater it neither rotted

nor buckled. A solitary, an isolate, it never
grew in groves but thrived in the vicinity
of clear springs. Spindly, tougher
than oak, more close-grained than gopherwood,

even its leaves, which were glaucous and spiky,
were defended against all folivores
except giraffes. Its small hard fruits, swathed
in bluish wool, were inedible and bitter

though only mildly toxic. It bore not the least resemblance
to a lion unless the noise the wind made
rattling its leaves gave rise to the name.
Perhaps it was the furious winds that finished it or else

the tree at last grew tired of existence.

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