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Index: Commentary on Art and Literature

“On her promise of recognition.”

Kay Yooung: ‘The Manager is a long poem of modern English life at the middle—middle-age, middle-income, middle-accomplishment, middle-earth—that somewhere between life and death. It is a poem that could sing in its hundred parts of the easeful comforts of middleness, but instead dwells most often in the midst of dis-easeful dissatisfactions, longings, and confusions. ‘

On Richard Berengarten’s ‘The Manager’.

Paul Scott Derrick: ‘Berengarten has on no other occasion published a book-length sequence that employs the recourse of the verse-paragraph, nor one that deals with a comparable subject matter: the peculiar and arguably grotesque modes of thinking, speaking and believing of the fauna inhabiting the corporate and financial environments of late twentieth-century England. ‘

John Ashbery Was a Quiz Kid.

Anthony Howell; ‘Ashbery created intense little collages, and he was a collage in himself. Another artist he admired was Trevor Winkfield – also a poet – and British – whose iconic yet enigmatic paintings have disparate emblems in them which never quite collide, though they ought to; something one can understand the quiz kid responding to; the paintings are full of things which might mean, but do they? A feeling one can get when deep in Ashbery’s lines.’

Shakespeare’s ‘Islamic’ poem, part II.

Nigel Wheale: ‘”Let the bird of loudest lay” is a far/near song, no song, which suggests so very much. The absolute concision, the perfection of these lines make any attempt to ‘expand’ or ‘unpick’ them seem infinitely lame; they are, in a real sense, unapproachable…The utter strangeness of Shakespeare’s poem in English literary convention is revealed by comparisons, and connections, with texts from older, more exotic traditions – Indian, Persian, Arabic, Berber Numidian, which have resonances with these verses from the English Midlands, around 1601.’

The New Beauty.

Anthony Howell: ‘As an aesthetic ideal, wealth stimulates a veritable culture of prizes, breaking down the divide which has traditionally separated art from sport. It’s an ideal that stimulates competition and incites envy, isolating one creative from another and thus ensuring against revolution. Very neatly, the rebellious “tradition” of the salon des refusés has been annulled by the oligarchs. ‘

Shakespeare’s ‘Islamic’ poem.

Nigel Wheale: ‘Salusbury the dedicatee has rarely been considered or even recalled as a context for understanding ‘the most mysterious poem in English’. What he or his family, his literary and musical acquaintances, might have made of ‘Let the bird of loudest lay’ is beyond recovery. But from a brief review of his biography and family circumstances, we can surely be confident that these were committed readers and writers of poetry, amongst whom Shakespeare’s poem circulated, and we can imagine, stirred interest. ‘

On a poem by John Riley.

Peter Riley: ‘I therefore wanted to look in detail at what was actually happening in a John Riley poem, without any developmental or contextual narrative concerning his work or anything else, and to steer clear of generalities and automative associations (such as that to some people any mid-twentieth-century English poet worth reading has to be “not unlike Larkin” in the last analysis, however distant he or she may in fact be from the Emperor of Hull). To look, then, at what the language is doing in a John Riley poem.’

Sonnets of Music and Memory.

Hoyt Rogers: ‘Naturally, Bonnefoy was well aware of the signal role of music in Shakespeare. His plays contain or allude to well over a hundred songs, many of which were probably performed with instruments as well as voices, as part of the entertainment. ‘

Arthur Rimbaud.

Francis Gribble: ‘Fame of a sort had come to him. An increasing coterie had come to recognise the merit of his verse — helped thereto, perhaps, by the scandalous association of his name with Verlaine’s. His memory was destined to be kept alive by a bronze bust, which the German invaders were destined to steal for the sake of copper. But he neither foresaw this tribute nor would have been much elated if he had foreseen it, the call of the East having, long since, upset his scale of values.’

Pierre Reverdy’s ‘non-novel’.

Peter Riley: ‘The uncertainty between poetry and prose in the early works makes sense when you realise that the fully poetical writing he first reached, principally in The Thief… itself, is basically in prose. That is to say that however much disjuncture there may be among the little separate pieces of language which float around the page, each piece is itself written in perfectly normal syntax, in sentences or parts thereof, in which the parts of speech maintain their proper functions. ‘

Modernist poetics.

Alan Wall: ‘Myth functioned for the modernists as a formal simplification, an avoidance of Brancusi’s ‘confusion of familiarities’. Myth could bring you closer to the present and its horrors and barbarities than the accustomed techniques of naturalism; it was in the widest possible sense, more realistic. The ancient could bring you closer to the realities of the present than the accustomed modes of the immediate past. But such employments were valid only if the ritualistic, the mythic, the legendary, interacted dynamically with the present; only if the past could be made to acknowledge that it only existed at all within the present. The past exists as long as the present carries it forward in time. That is the meaning of the word ‘relevance’ in terms of art. ‘

The history of Imagism.

By F.S. FLINT. . . . itaque, quae priores, nondum comperta, eloquentia percoluere, rerum fide tradentur.—TACITUS.      ”Chi compra Manfredi?” SOMEWHERE IN THE gloom of the year 1908, Mr.T. E. Hulme, now in the trenches of Ypres, but excited then by the propinquity, at a half-a-crown dance, of the other sex (if, as Remy de Gourmont […]

The poems of ‘H.D.’

May Sinclair: ‘If ever we thought of “H.D.” as cultivating, exquisitely, a narrow plot, tied by her imagism, with these and her latest poems before us, we can have no misgivings as to her range. There is the pure imagism of “Evening” and the flower passage out of “Sea-Gods,” which I have already given. And the elegiac pathos of “Loss.”’

A Drohobych diptych.

H.A. Willis: ‘That Stepan Andriyovych Bandera, the most potent embodiment of western Ukrainian self-determination, was the son of a Ukrainian Greek-Catholic priest, only anointed his sense of destiny—but he was assassinated by the KGB in 1959. Bruno Schulz, the great writer, critic and artist, was the son of a Jewish merchant. He was killed, almost casually, by a Nazi in 1942.’

Stepan Bandera: The alt.messiah.

 By H.A. WILLIS. Part two of the Drohobych Diptych. BORN ON NEW YEAR’S Day 1909, about eighty kilometres south-east of Drohobycz, Bandera grew up under Polish rule as a member of an aggrieved people who, in the wake of the First World War, fought for and came close to achieving self-determination. Even without the impetus […]