* You are viewing the archive for January, 2024

Sean O’Brien, It Says Here – review

I’d like to start by quoting the fine short poem ‘Names’ from O’Brien’s new book It Says Here. If just saying it aloud enchants you as much as it does me then this is a book you should buy:

Ravenspur, Ravensrodd, Ravenser Odd,
Salt-heavy bells heard only by God.

Drink to the lost and the longshore drift:
When there is nothing the names will be left.

It’s reminiscent of Geoffrey Hill’s ‘Merlin’ in its particular elegiac feeling and tune, but the names it refers to aren’t literary in the way those in Hill’s poem are (‘Arthur, Elaine, Mordred, they are all … Continue Reading

Marvell, The Picture of Little T C in a Prospect of Flowers

See with what simplicity
This nymph begins her golden days!
In the green grass she loves to lie


It’s impossible to pin down what makes the first three lines of Marvell’s ‘The Picture of Little T. C. in a Prospect of Flowers’ such a magical fusion of tenderness, delicacy and radiant energy. It’s something to do with the degree to which different beauties of the writing breathe life into each other.

One such beauty is the sheer lightness and sophisticated simplicity of the poet’s metrical, phonetic and syntactical fingering. Sounds and rhythmic contours melt into or swell out of each other smoothly, … Continue Reading