Search Results

Advanced Search

1 to 15 of 20 results

Sort by:

Filter by:

Contributors

Article Types

Authors

Subjects

We did and we didn’t

Seamus Perry: Are yez civilised?, 6 May 2021

On Seamus Heaney 
by R.F. Foster.
Princeton, 228 pp., £14.99, September 2020, 978 0 691 17437 2
Show More
Show More
... When​ the posthumous Collected Poems of W.H. Auden appeared in 1976, Seamus Heaney wrote an appreciative review for the magazine Hibernia in which he tolda story about a Ballymena listener calling the BBC one morning in 1969, after the Northern Ireland news had given a lot of coverage to speeches by civil rights leaders the previous evening ...

Hail, Muse!

Seamus Perry: Byron v. Shelley, 6 February 2003

The Making of the Poets: Byron and Shelley in Their Time 
by Ian Gilmour.
Chatto, 410 pp., £25, June 2002, 0 7011 7110 3
Show More
Byron and Romanticism 
by Jerome McGann.
Cambridge, 321 pp., £47.50, August 2002, 0 521 80958 4
Show More
Show More
... Ian Gilmour’s deft and learned book is concerned with the lives of Byron and Shelley up to the morning on which Byron woke up and found himself famous. The poets weren’t to meet for another four years, so Gilmour isn’t telling the history of their acquaintance but its prehistory; and not the least of his book’s many virtues is the way it makes you realise what an odd combination they made ...

In Flesh-Coloured Silk

Seamus Perry: Romanticism, 4 December 2003

Metaromanticism: Aesthetics, Literature, Theory 
by Paul Hamilton.
Chicago, 316 pp., £17.50, August 2003, 0 226 31480 4
Show More
Show More
... poems’ representation of the world – not, that is to say, ‘the music of what happens’ (in Seamus Heaney’s phrase) but, well, just what happens. Wordsworth frequently writes with soaring grandeur about the status and function of the poet; but in his most telling account, the ‘Preface’ to Lyrical Ballads, the poet’s importance rests on his ...

Everything is good news

Seamus Perry: Dylan Thomas’s Moment, 20 November 2014

The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas: The New Centenary Edition 
edited by John Goodby.
Weidenfeld, 416 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 0 297 86569 8
Show More
Under Milk Wood: The Definitive Edition 
edited by Walford Davies and Ralph Maud.
Phoenix, 208 pp., £7.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 724 5
Show More
Collected Stories 
by Dylan Thomas.
Phoenix, 384 pp., £8.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 730 6
Show More
A Dylan Thomas Treasury: Poems, Stories and Broadcasts 
Phoenix, 186 pp., £7.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 726 9Show More
Show More
... play as a capitulation to that threat, so long resisted in his verse – ‘an idyllic romp’, as Seamus Heaney put it, ‘as if The Joy of Sex were dreamt under the canvas of a Welsh eisteddfod’. Heaney underplays the great tugging undercurrent of desolation within the work, but I think the most distinctive Thomas lives somewhere else, and Thomas would not ...

Wire him up to a toaster

Seamus Perry: Ordinary Carey, 7 January 2021

A Little History of Poetry 
by John Carey.
Yale, 303 pp., £14.99, March 2020, 978 0 300 23222 6
Show More
Show More
... the small and the ordinary are to us’ he is engaged in a slightly different business from Seamus Heaney, whose ‘subject matter was ordinary’, but they might both claim a kind of realism which is the fulfilment of an ethic, like the Dutch school of painters whose work Carey prefers to other visual art, as he says in his memoir, ‘because it took ...

Self-Management

Seamus Perry: Southey’s Genius for Repression, 26 January 2006

Robert Southey: Poetical Works 1793-1810 
edited by Lynda Pratt, Tim Fulford and Daniel Sanjiv Roberts.
Pickering & Chatto, 2624 pp., £450, May 2004, 1 85196 731 1
Show More
Show More
... On 15 June 1794, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, prodigious, garrulous and chubby, his brilliant undergraduate career in tatters, set out from Cambridge in the company of a steady companion called Hucks, picturesquely intent on a walking tour of North Wales. Their route took them through Oxford, where they looked up one of Coleridge’s old schoolmates, who took the visitors to see a notorious democrat at Balliol called Robert Southey ...

The Shoreham Gang

Seamus Perry: Samuel Palmer, 5 April 2012

Mysterious Wisdom: The Life and Work of Samuel Palmer 
by Rachel Campbell-Johnston.
Bloomsbury, 382 pp., £25, June 2011, 978 0 7475 9587 8
Show More
Show More
... A bearded patriarch, possibly in Elizabethan dress, rests on his elbow, stretched out on a snug little hillock in the middle of a wedge-shaped field of corn. He is leaning against some sort of natural cushion, and it’s possible he is asleep, though he has a large book open in front of him so perhaps it’s just that his eyes are cast down to scrutinise its pages ...

Are we there yet?

Seamus Perry: Tennyson, 20 January 2011

The Major Works 
by Alfred Tennyson, edited by Adam Roberts.
Oxford, 626 pp., £10.99, August 2009, 978 0 19 957276 2
Show More
Show More
... When Auden announced in his preface to a new selection that Tennyson was ‘undoubtedly the stupidest’ of all the English poets he must have known that he was asking for trouble. Trouble duly came in the shape of Sir Desmond MacCarthy, who doggedly stood up in the Sunday Times for the quality of Tennyson’s mind, deplored Auden’s account of the great man as ‘very patronising’, then sought to out-patronise him in turn: ‘It reads as if Mr Auden had been feeling while he wrote it like a middle-aged schoolmaster preparing a report on little Alfred’s work and behaviour ...

Regrets, Vexations, Lassitudes

Seamus Perry: Wordsworth’s Trouble, 18 December 2008

William Wordsworth’s ‘The Prelude’: A Casebook 
edited by Stephen Gill.
Oxford, 406 pp., £19.99, September 2006, 0 19 518092 5
Show More
Show More
... The greatest long poem in modern English letters began its life, unexpectedly, in the winter of 1798, in an uncomfortable lodging in Goslar, Lower Saxony, where Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy found themselves marooned for four miserable months. The weather was terrible – it was reputedly the coldest winter of the century – and leaving town was practically impossible: ‘When we left the room where we sit we were obliged to wrap ourselves up in great coats &c in order not to suffer much pain from the transition,’ Dorothy wrote home to their brother Christopher, ‘though we only went into the next room or down stairs for a few minutes ...

Look on the Bright Side

Seamus Perry: Anna Letitia Barbauld, 25 February 2010

Anna Letitia Barbauld: Voice of the Enlightenment 
by William McCarthy.
Johns Hopkins, 725 pp., £32, December 2008, 978 0 8018 9016 1
Show More
Show More
... Until 15 or 20 years ago most students of English literature would have known one thing about Anna Letitia Barbauld, which was her appearance in a droll anecdote told by Samuel Taylor Coleridge towards the end of his life and recorded in the posthumous volume of his Table Talk. ‘Mrs Barbauld told me that the only faults she found with the Ancient Mariner were – that it was improbable, and had no moral,’ Coleridge is reported as saying: ‘As for the probability – to be sure that might admit some question – but I told her that in my judgment the chief fault of the poem was that it had too much moral, and that too openly obtruded upon the reader ...

Drugs, anyone?

Seamus Perry: George Meredith, 18 June 2015

Modern Love and Poems of the English Roadside, with Poems and Ballads 
by George Meredith, edited by Criscillia Benford and Rebecca Mitchell.
Yale, 390 pp., £40, April 2015, 978 0 300 17317 8
Show More
Show More
... German​ scholars used to worry about something they called ‘Das Adam Smith Problem’. There seemed to be two of him: one was the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, awash with warm-hearted fellow feeling; the other, the hard-nosed realist of The Wealth of Nations, a work which seemed to describe a world governed by a heedless disregard for anyone other than oneself ...

Wielded by a Wizard

Seamus Perry: Shelley’s Kind of Glee, 3 January 2019

Selected Poems and Prose 
by Percy Bysshe Shelley, edited by Jack Donovan and Cian Duffy.
Penguin, 893 pp., £12.99, January 2017, 978 0 241 25306 9
Show More
Show More
... Quite a few​ of Shelley’s contemporaries came to the view that he wasn’t all there – the inhabitants of Marlow, for example, who were treated to the recurrent spectacle of a disgraceful young radical poet returning distractedly to his cottage after long scrambles in the woods. ‘He was the most interesting figure I ever saw,’ a child witness recalled later in life, still much struck ...

A Great Big Silly Goose

Seamus Perry: Characteristically Spenderish, 21 May 2020

Poems Written Abroad: The Lilly Library Manuscript 
by Stephen Spender.
Indiana, 112 pp., £27.99, July 2019, 978 0 253 04167 8
Show More
Show More
... Stephen​ Spender had spent two terms as an undistinguished student at University College, Oxford, before he finally met W.H. Auden. It was not for want of trying. Michael, Spender’s elder brother, an insufferable turbo-brain at Balliol, had known Auden at school and kept in touch, but refused to arrange an introduction for Stephen, fearing, as Spender later put it, that ‘in producing me he would be playing the weakest card in his hand ...

What a carry-on

Seamus Perry: W.S. Graham, 18 July 2019

W.S. Graham: New Selected Poems 
edited by Matthew Francis.
Faber, 144 pp., £12.99, September 2018, 978 0 571 34844 2
Show More
W.S. Graham 
edited by Michael Hofmann.
NYRB, 152 pp., £9.99, October 2018, 978 1 68137 276 1
Show More
Show More
... Many poets​ end up having a hard life but W.S. Graham went out of his way to have one. His dedication to poetry, about which he seems never to have had a second thought, was remorseless, and his instinct, surely a peculiarly modern one, was that the way to nurture his creativity was to have a really bad time. ‘The poet or painter steers his life to maim//Himself somehow for the job,’ he wrote in a posthumous address to the painter Peter Lanyon ...

Against the Same-Old Same-Old

Seamus Perry: The Brownings, 3 November 2016

The Brownings’ Correspondence, Vol 21 
edited by Philip Kelley, Scott Lewis, Joseph Phelan, Edward Hagan and Rhian Williams.
Wedgestone, 432 pp., $110, April 2014, 978 0 911459 38 8
Show More
The Brownings’ Correspondence, Vol 22 
edited by Philip Kelley, Scott Lewis, Joseph Phelan, Edward Hagan and Rhian Williams.
Wedgestone, 430 pp., $110, June 2015, 978 0 911459 39 5
Show More
Robert Browning 
edited by Richard Cronin and Dorothy McMillan.
Oxford, 904 pp., £95, December 2014, 978 0 19 959942 4
Show More
Browning Studies: Being Select Papers by Members of the Browning Society 
edited by Edward Berdoe.
Routledge, 348 pp., £30, August 2015, 978 1 138 02488 5
Show More
Show More
... Romanticism​ bequeathed a good many things to the beleaguered modern imagination, one of the most provoking of which was the thought that it should get out more. That bit of advice proved all the more challenging because it contradicted the other basic idea which the Romantics left behind – namely, that what mattered was staying inside, wrapped in the private world of subjectivity and ‘mental space ...

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences