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The American Virus

Eliot Weinberger

The Home Life of Inspector Maigret

John Lanchester

Story: ‘Have a Seat in the Big Black Chair’

Diane Williams

The Last Whale

Colin Burrow

In Beijing

Long Ling

Princess Margaret and Lady Anne

Rosemary Hill

At the Movies: ‘Arkansas’

Michael Wood

Ruin it your own way

Susan Pedersen

At Home

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The Ottoman Conundrum

Helen Pfeifer

Poem: ‘Muntjac’

Blake Morrison

Piketty’s Revolution

Geoff Mann

Short Cuts: In Tripoli

Jérôme Tubiana

Coetzee Makes a Leap

Christopher Tayler

At Auckland Castle: Francisco de Zurbarán

Nicola Jennings

Drain the Swamps

Steven Shapin

Diary: In the Isolation Room

Nicholas Spice

An InvocationSeamus Heaney
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1

Incline to me, MacDiarmid, out of Shetland,
Stone-eyed from stone-gazing, sobered up
And thrawn. Not the old vigilante

Of the chimney corner, having us on,
Setting us off, the drinkers’ drinker; no,
Incline as the sage of wind that flouts the rockface,

As gull stalled in the seabreeze, gatekeeper
Of open gates behind the brows of birds –
Not to hear me take back smart remarks

About your McGonaglish propensities,
For I do not, but I add in middle age:
I underprized your far-out, blethering genius.

2

Those years in the shore-view house, especially –
More intellectual billygoat than scapegoat,
Beyond the stony limits, writing mad.

That pride of being tested. Of solitude.
Your big pale forehead in the window glass
Like the earth’s curve on the sea’s curve to the north.

At your wits’ end then, always on the go
To the beach and back, taking cognizance
Between the horizon and the dictionary,

Hardliner on the rockface of the old
Questions and answers, to which I also add:
‘Who is my neighbour? My neighbour is all mankind.’

3

And if you won’t incline, endure
At an embraced distance. Be the wee
Contrary stormcock that you always were,

The weather-eye of a poetry like the weather,
A shifting force, a factor entering
Whether it prevails or not, constantly

Tuned in, of its time and place – and ours
If we’re lucky. Never, at any rate,
Beyond us, even when outlandish.

In the accent, in the idiom, in
The idea like a thistle in the wind,
A catechism worth repeating always.

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