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Mistrial

Michael Davie, 6 June 1985

The Airman and the Carpenter: The Lindbergh Case and the Framing of Richard Hauptmann 
by Ludovic Kennedy.
Collins, 438 pp., £12.95, April 1985, 0 00 217060 4
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... crossed Newfoundland, 33 hours before he landed in Paris. The French President decorated him; King George V received him at Buckingham Palace; President Coolidge sent a cruiser and an admiral to bring him home. In Chesapeake Bay, Mr Kennedy tells us, the cruiser was met by four destroyers, two army dirigibles and a fly-past from all three services. Ashore in ...

Ten Poets

Denis Donoghue, 7 November 1985

Selected Poems 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 124 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 9780856355950
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Collected Poems: 1947-1980 
by Allen Ginsberg.
Viking, 837 pp., £16.95, April 1985, 0 670 80683 8
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Instant Chronicles: A Life 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 58 pp., £4.50, April 1985, 9780019211970
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Selected Poems 
by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 139 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 596 8
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Selected Poems 
by Jeffrey Wainwright.
Carcanet, 79 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 598 4
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Selected Poems 
by Gillian Clarke.
Carcanet, 112 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 594 1
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The Price of Stone 
by Richard Murphy.
Faber, 92 pp., £4, May 1985, 0 571 13568 4
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Selected Poems 
by Iain Crichton Smith.
Carcanet, 121 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 597 6
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Selected Poems 
by Sylvia Townsend Warner.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 585 2
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From the Irish 
by James Simmons.
Blackstaff, 78 pp., £3.95, May 1985, 0 85640 331 8
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... One of Donald Davie’s early poems, and one of his strongest, is ‘Pushkin: A Didactic Poem’, from Brides of Reason (1955). As in Davie’s ‘Dream Forest’, Pushkin is taken as a model, a poet Who recognised no checks Yet brooked them all – a mind Molten and thereby fluent, Unforced, easily strict ...

Pound’s Friends

Donald Davie, 23 May 1985

Pound’s Cantos 
by Peter Makin.
Allen and Unwin, 349 pp., £20, March 1985, 0 04 811001 9
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To Write Paradise: Style and Error in Pound’s Cantos 
by Christine Froula.
Yale, 208 pp., £18.50, February 1985, 0 300 02512 2
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Ezra Pound: Politics, Economics and Writing 
by Peter Nicholls.
Macmillan, 263 pp., £25, September 1984, 0 333 36159 8
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... history The Cantos are much concerned with – the transmission of cultural values (from Homer via George Chapman to John Keats). The error about Cortez doesn’t matter, not for the reason the Norton editors give or imply, but because it is an error in the history of European discovery and colonising of the New World – and that is not, except ...

Browning and Modernism

Donald Davie, 10 October 1991

The Poems of Browning. Vol. I: 1826-1840 
edited by John Woolford and Daniel Karlin.
Longman, 797 pp., £60, April 1991, 0 582 48100 7
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The Poems of Browning. Vol. II: 1841-1846 
edited by John Woolford and Daniel Karlin .
Longman, 581 pp., £50, April 1991, 9780582063990
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... briefly by an unregarded few. And so it comes about that the Victorians – Browning, no less than George Eliot – are back in favour, not just for their undemanding and verbally profligate forms but for their portentous preoccupation: how to lose religious faith and yet preserve all the psychological comforts which that faith had afforded. More than a ...

Dreamtime with Whitlam

Michael Davie, 4 September 1986

The Whitlam Government 1972-1975 
by Gough Whitlam.
Viking, 788 pp., £17.95, July 1986, 0 670 80287 5
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... stagnated. There had been a time when it was a party of ideas and ideals – owing more to Henry George than to Marx – but its leaders had long since ceased to believe in either the practicality or the desirability of socialism, and, depressed by the ease with which Menzies won successive elections, did not bother to search for anything to put in its ...

Parodies

Barbara Everett, 7 May 1981

A Night in the Gazebo 
by Alan Brownjohn.
Secker, 64 pp., £3, November 1980, 0 436 07114 2
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Victorian Voices 
by Anthony Thwaite.
Oxford, 42 pp., £3.95, October 1980, 0 19 211937 0
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The Illusionists 
by John Fuller.
Secker, 138 pp., £3.95, November 1980, 0 436 16810 3
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... Donald Davie has proposed that Eliot’s Quartets are in some sense a work of self-parody, with ‘The Dry Salvages’ in structure and style parodistic of the quartets that preceded it. This proposal took off from an idea of Hugh Kenner’s, and any theory with two such exceptionally able sponsors needs treating with respect ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... New Apocalypse. As for the Movement, two of its original New Lines members, Thom Gunn and Donald Davie, went off in directions undreamed of by Robert Conquest and still largely ignored by contemporary British poetry. Looking a little further, we find that Gunn and Davie between them do something that has still not been ...

Gurney’s Flood

Donald Davie, 3 February 1983

Geoffrey Grigson: Collected Poems 1963-1980 
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 419 4Show More
The Cornish Dancer 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 64 pp., £4.95, June 1982, 0 436 18805 8
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 420 8
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses: A Critical Collection 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 437 2
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Collected Poems of Ivor Gurney 
edited by P.J. Kavanagh.
Oxford, 284 pp., £12, September 1982, 0 19 211940 0
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War Letters 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by R.K.R. Thornton.
Mid-Northumberland Arts Group/Carcanet, 271 pp., £12, February 1983, 0 85635 408 2
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... the poet has a sure sense of when it is appropriate, when not. The influences – Hopkins in ‘George Chapman – The Iliad’, Edward Thomas in ‘On Foscombe Hill’ and ‘Up There’ and possibly ‘Imitation’, Jonson in ‘We Who Praise Poets’, Whitman and possibly D.H. Lawrence in ‘Felling a Tree’ – are discernible but never for ...

Forms and Inspirations

Vikram Seth, 29 September 1988

... poetic form and poetic inspiration work to search each other out. One of these poets was Donald Davie, the other Timothy Steele. Let me talk about Donald first. In the middle of my studies in Economics at Stanford University, I was given the chance to spend a year in the Creative Writing Program in the English Department. I was not at all convinced that ...

Bugger me blue

Ian Hamilton, 22 October 1992

The Selected Letters of Philip Larkin 
edited by Anthony Thwaite.
Faber, 759 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 571 15197 3
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... cunt’, and so on. Less succinct salutations will be discovered by the likes of Donald Davie (‘droning out his tosh’), Ted Hughes (‘boring old monolith, no good at all – not a single solitary bit of good’) and Anthony Powell, aka ‘the horse-face dwarf’. There is even a ‘Hi, Ian’: he calls me ‘the Kerensky of poetry’. Not too ...

My Americas

Donald Davie, 3 September 1981

... and when they defer to or expatiate upon European theorists of translation like Walter Benjamin or George Steiner, it is easy to miss, as I think Christopher Reid did, the altogether un-European urgency of their concern. For them, translation, and the disputable possibility of it (at least as regards verse), is a matter neither academic nor narrowly ...
... in the work which, more than any other book, provided the title-deeds of the cultural revival: George Davie’s The Democratic Intellect, published by Edinburgh University Press in 1961, was fallible as a history of Victorian Scottish universities, but an eloquent restatement of the deductive basis of the Scottish intellectual tradition assaulted by ...

The Verity of Verity

Marilyn Butler, 1 August 1996

Essays in Appreciation 
by Christopher Ricks.
Oxford, 363 pp., £25, March 1996, 0 19 818344 5
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... appreciate, as his title promises, the creative writers Marlowe, Donne, Clarendon, Crabbe, Austen, George Eliot, Lowell and Hardy; the historian Clarendon, the philosopher Austin and the biographers Gaskell, Froude and Hallam Tennyson; and, throughout, the line of great dead critics – Johnson, Coleridge, Arnold, T.S. Eliot, Trilling and Donald ...

Jericho

Ronald Blythe, 17 September 1981

The Diary of a Country Parson, 1758-1802 
by Reverend James Woodforde, edited by John Beresford.
Oxford, 364 pp., £65, June 1981, 0 19 811485 0
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The English Countrywoman: Her Life in Farmhouse and Field from Tudor Times to the Victorian Age 
by G.E. Fussell and K.R. Fussell.
Orbis, 221 pp., £10, June 1981, 0 85613 336 1
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The English Countrywoman: Her Life and Work from Tudor Times to the Victorian Age 
by G.E. Fussell and K.R. Fussell.
Orbis, 172 pp., £10, June 1981, 0 85613 335 3
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... I, on January 30th of each year, and, on the other, on the side of liberty and against King George III in the Wilkes controversy ... he liked Lords but he is no snob; he liked women but not in the amorous way ... and he is merciful to all animals; finally in religion he loved the quiet way ... ’ This we discover at the end of the Introduction is how ...

Locked and Barred

Robert Crawford: Elizabeth Jennings, 24 July 2003

New Collected Poems 
by Elizabeth Jennings.
Carcanet, 386 pp., £9.95, February 2002, 1 85754 559 1
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... the grain of the language is often a smoother, less arresting version of that of Edwin Muir or George Herbert. It’s hard to believe most of these poems were written in the last quarter-century. One distinguished contemporary poet scowled when I told him I was reading Jennings’s Collected Poems: ‘Life’s too short.’ As I read, though, I was ...

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