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By Sennen

David Harsent, 4 June 1998

... After a painting by Jeremy LeGrice … in London, of course you are, landlocked in your kitchen, but just a step, after all, from the door into the hall, and then just a step from the door into the street where the cabbie is more than happy to wait by the slip-road that takes you out through the wrecked hulks of tower blocks, happy to stop- start-stop in the backed- up traffic, its tide-race of tail-lights, its surf of crap and slop, letting you out with a minute or so to spare for the westbound train, a minute or less, so you scarcely believe you’ve done it, except landing-lights in the bare backs of houses are slipping past too fast for counting, while some sudden, clear, cold wind is shaking the fire-escapes like rigging, and that sky-high blur of dark cloud laid on darkness is the test of where you are, of what you’ll come to next, which is why you fall asleep from fear or habit, which is why you wake up with the ghost of kitchen-whiskey, why the first and last shreds of memory hold only the best and worst of what you first intended, as your fist strikes the window, as your foot slaps the platform, putting you just a step, a step or two, from the cliff path and the path that goes from the cliff to the beach, wind ringing your ears almost as much as the cries of seabirds which fast become the birds themselves, afloat on the massive uprush of air that flows from the root of the cliff and up over its lip, which makes you think, ‘Bird’s-eye view: myself just pate and boot and little salt-white hands,’ while you trample out the pith and bladder of seaweed, setting off the unholy stink from its silky, liverish reds, beyond which lies nothing, lies nothing at all, unless it’s the sea that cheats the eye, the sea that gives endless accounts of itself, running green and green-and-white, and a deeper green beneath; you can hear it, can’t you, that low-in-the-throat, that hysterical hiss; you keep your eye on the fault-line, don’t you, where sea and sky squeeze out a line of light; you’ll stay there, won’t you, fronting the weather, learning it all by rote? – Bird’s-eye view: myself almost out of sight, little salt-white… And that deeper green beneath to prompt you ...

Two Poems

David Wheatley, 8 May 2008

... of Chile. Solitaries are demagogues and demagogues solitaries. Annual poetry sales, it must be said, never dip, not a unit. Penguins are rarely mentioned for fear of obviousness though the albatross, where encountered, is a symbol for penguins, and the elephant seal a symbol for the albatross. The local note is especially prized on condition that nobody ...

The Garden Goddess

David Harsent, 29 January 2009

... Out by the woodpile at 3 a.m., knock-kneed and shitfaced, lost in your own backyard, you pour a libation that comes straight from the dregs and she drinks it. Or you stand at a sinkful of broken this and that wide-eyed and with nary a hint of what’s next, as she goes by with her Tesco bags and a fifth of gin in her pocket ...
... heart.All I possessed were secret books. Dion´yzy arranged my bedas we both wished. There will be no children, he had said.This is what I swan-sung when I wed: I am marryinghis harp. I died back to life as a child, a bride at fifteen.I heart-sang: ‘The harp is the abyss. I shall never knowthe earth again, not through her notes, not as the notesfrom a ...

From ‘Fresh Water’

David Morley, 11 June 2009

... the energy system cindering softly under us, slow-cooking the marshlands. ‘The gate ought to be here. The map said so. That map back at my flat . . . Look, there’s a spot somewhere this way where sheep shove through. See those fieldfares and redwings? They landed last night.’ Then a step within a fence nobody bothered with for years or knew, except ...

Two poems after Yannis Ritsos

David Harsent, 27 September 2012

... lifted her glass, the bracelets rattled on her wrist. ‘Listen to that,’ she said, ‘I must be dead.’ At once a piercing white light shone out from her mouth and all within its range was marble and bone. Voices died. Hands locked in a gesture. Our ships were white, the sea was white, a white gull pitched out of the sky and landed on the table ...

From Loss

David Harsent, 7 March 2019

... for me.’ Sometimeshe lies down with these rejects. His finger-bones achehe imagines them blacked by a lifelong seepage of ink.Among the crosshatch of deletions one line untouched:She said: ‘This comes not from the scar but from the wound.’With that a shift in her womb: the unnamed child.         She is the girl waiting         at the ...
The Socialist Agenda 
edited byDavid Lipsey.
Cape, 242 pp., £7.95, January 1981, 0 224 01886 8
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The Future of Socialism 
byAnthony Crosland.
Cape, 368 pp., £8.95, January 1981, 0 224 01888 4
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Politics is for people 
byShirley Williams.
Allen Lane/Penguin, 230 pp., £8.50, April 1981, 0 7139 1423 8
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... decisions taken at the Wembley conference in January, but even if it does the Party will still be committed to an electoral college of some sort, and the leadership will still be even more obviously in thrall to an incompetent and unpopular trade-union movement than it used to be in ...

Problems for the SDP

David Butler, 1 October 1981

... the SDP would soon go the way of all breakaway parties are becoming less confident. It begins to be conceivable that the new alliance will actually break the mould of British politics. Britain is likely to have an SDP/Liberal government after the next election unless one of three things happens: 1. The Conservative Government gets its act together. If ...

Country Life

David Cannadine, 5 November 1981

The Victorian Countryside 
edited byG.E. Mingay.
Routledge, 380 pp., £25, July 1981, 0 7100 0734 5
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... In 1972, Routledge and Kegan Paul published The Victorian City: Images and Realities, edited by H.J. Dyos and Michael Wolff, a Wagnerian epic in which history went to town in exuberant, zestful and flamboyant fashion. Understandably, the two volumes won immediate and widespread acclaim as a tour de force of entrepreneurial inspiration and editorial skill: ‘a study in superlatives’ was the response of one ecstatic reviewer ...

Party Man

David Marquand, 1 July 1982

Tony Crosland 
bySusan Crosland.
Cape, 448 pp., £10.95, June 1982, 9780224017879
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... I took an instant dislike to him. I was then a rather priggish Bevanite, and I was shocked by his politics. I was even more shocked by his manner. He seemed to typify what I most disliked about the Southern English mandarinate. He had a cut-glass accent. He was insufferably sure of himself. He was appallingly and ...


David Trotter, 23 June 1988

The Government of the Tongue: The 1986 T.S. Eliot Memorial Lectures, and Other Critical Writings 
bySeamus Heaney.
Faber, 172 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 571 14796 8
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... endorsed a fellow writer’s lament that ‘you feel bloody well guilty about writing.’ To judge by this new collection of critical essays, he still feels bloody well guilty about it. Indeed, the essays make the difficult relation between art and life – ‘let us put it more melodramatically and call them Song and Suffering’ – their main theme. They ...

In Icy Baltic Waters

David Blackbourn: Gunter Grass, 27 June 2002

Im Krebsgang: Eine Novelle 
byGünter Grass.
Steidl, 216 pp., €18, February 2002, 3 88243 800 2
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... 1945, the former cruise ship Wilhelm Gustloff was sunk off the Pomeranian coast after being hit by three torpedoes fired from a Soviet Navy submarine. The ship was carrying German refugees fleeing west before the advancing Red Army. As many as nine thousand people lost their lives (six times the death toll of the Titanic), including four thousand children ...

Devils Everywhere

David Wootton: The Terrors of the Night, 9 March 2006

At Day’s Close: A History of Nighttime 
byRoger Ekirch.
Weidenfeld, 447 pp., £20, June 2005, 0 297 82992 0
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Saving the Daylight: Why We Put the Clocks Forward 
byDavid Prerau.
Granta, 256 pp., £14.99, October 2005, 1 86207 796 7
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... returning to it in pitch darkness: stumbling along the towpath, trying to fit a key into a lock by touch, feeling my way from one end of the boat to the other to reach the main battery switch. Because I have dogs, one of which has to be kept on a lead because he would catch sleeping waterfowl if he could, I have to ...

Six Wolfs, Three Weills

David Simpson: Emigration from Nazi Germany, 5 October 2006

Weimar in Exile: The Anti-Fascist Emigration in Europe and America 
byJean-Michel Palmier, translated byDavid Fernbach.
Verso, 852 pp., £29.99, July 2006, 1 84467 068 6
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... less than wholehearted. Yet the temptation to romanticise this piece of the past persists, aided by the fact that exile is a word whose charge has been somewhat blunted by an inclination to celebrate the positive aspects of rootlessness, whether as a gesture against the perceived intellectual and personal constraints which ...

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