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Botanic Macaroni

Steven Shapin

What made the Vikings tick?

Tom Shippey

In the Lab

Rupert Beale

Will there be a Brexit deal?

Anand Menon

Short Cuts: Under New Management

Rory Scothorne

Out-Tissoted

Bridget Alsdorf

Sarah Moss

Blake Morrison

Poem: ‘Country Music’

Ange Mlinko

On the Trail of Garibaldi

Tim Parks

Art Lessons

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You’ll like it when you get there

Tom Crewe

Early Kermode

Stefan Collini

‘The Vanishing Half’

Joanna Biggs

At the Movies: ‘The Truth’

Michael Wood

The Suitcase: Part Two

Frances Stonor Saunders

Poem: ‘Siri U’

Jorie Graham

Diary: Getting into Esports

John Lanchester

Close
Close

Others look down on me. As well they might.
I look down on myself from a great height:
see the tramp’s straggly hair turned white

– the off-white of effluent-polluted sea-foam –
the bony shoulders, the incipient bald dome
and black wings sprouting that will fly me home.

for Rachel Owen

1.

I keep forgetting if this is
Lucerne or Geneva, Geneva or Lucerne.
But there’s a lake almost too close
like a slab of black marble.
Every hour a ferry slides over and erases
its lucid inscriptions.

2.

In Tarragona you can swim a few strides
from the port road – it looks clean enough
to drown in, but it takes a bloody cliff
to reach the Rambla Vella and the Roman ruins.
I opt for a dip in the drink.
Why scale the heights when you can fight the waves?

3.

Free passage to Cagliari, that’s if
I can speak about the First World War
poets. I speak too much. Break of day,
a trench for sewage pipes is being dug
outside the hotel window. Hard hats are
placidly conferring. A Phoenecian frigate in the port.

4.

The interminable cave through the Karst
– the White War fought in the near distance –
is home to the blind salamander and the devil bat.
They say Dante in exile visited and first
dreamed up hell down here – they forget
he spent his youth in Florence.

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