* You are viewing the archive for June, 2017

Radiant transparency – the style of Longley’s Angel Hill

You can only feel wonder at the quietly but profoundly startling first lines of Angel Hill:

…….for Fleur Adcock at 80


You gave me a gilded magnifying glass
For scrutinizing the hearts of wild flowers
(Which I did, kneeling in water meadows).

Their movement is  grave, measured and relaxed, like the tread of a sure-footed walker over a tussocky field. To say there’s not a hint of dramatic emphasis in the poem’s voice wouldn’t be putting the matter strongly enough though. There’s a positive avoidance of emphasis when it threatens to … Continue Reading

Notes on Keith Douglas’s “Dead Men”

“Dead Men” as a whole is less satisfying and less achieved than “Cairo Jag”, but the three opening stanzas are unforgettable:



Tonight the moon inveigles them
to love: they infer from her gaze
her tacit encouragement.
Tonight the white dresses and the jasmine scent
in the streets. I in another place
see the white dresses glimmer like moths. Come

to the west, out of that trance, my heart –
here the same hours have illumined
sleepers who are condemned or reprieved
and those whom their ambitions have deceived;
the dead men, whom the wind
powders till they are like dolls: they tonight

rest in … Continue Reading