* You are viewing the archive for June, 2011

Pearl, translated by Jane Draycott, Oxford Poets, Carcanet Press, £9.95

Jane Draycott’s Pearl is a remarkable poetic achievement and fills what has been a frustating gap in our translated literature. There is a translation by J. R. R. Tolkien, but it preserves the formal patterns of the original at the price of syntactical contortions that make it virtually unreadable as poetry, however useful as a crib. The original is a 2500 line long, fourteenth century dream poem, probably by the same author as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It narrates a dream vision in which a grieving father speaks to the soul of his dead two-year-old daughter, receives consolation … Continue Reading

Derek Walcott’s Sea Grapes – 2 Metre

You can find the text of Sea Grapes at

Talking about imagery is relatively easy because you can discuss it in isolation from everything else. Discussing rhythm and form in a free verse poem like this is almost impossibly difficult because they’re so intimately bound up with the whole dynamic of thought and feeling that makes the poem what it is. And yet to ignore them is to ignore the things most essential to the poem’s life. For example, the impact of the opening line is determined as much by its buoyantly singing iambic rhythm as by the visual information … Continue Reading