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Index: Poetry & Fiction

Things.

D. H. Lawrence: ‘The glow of beauty, like every other glow, dies down unless it is fed. The idealists still dearly loved their things. But they had got them. And the sad fact is, things that glow vividly while you’re getting them go almost quite cold after a year or two. Unless, of course, people envy you them very much, and the museums are pining for them. And the Melvilles’ “things,” though very good, were not quite as good as that.’

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Æcerbot.

Steve Ely: ‘The pagan origin of the pre-Islamic qasida is reflected in the fact that Æcerbot is a not merely a poem, but a spell …’

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Parabola.

Maurice Scully: ‘Random
patches of fog now & then
obscured the view & hung
motionless in many places
above the swamp. The road
was bad. ‘

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52 The Breakfast

Mirror 52: “Wink at your grocer and see what you get!” – the sweetheart of the toasted corn,
smiling from a cereal packet, wholesome, hugging a golden sheaf.’’

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Six-way Mirror.

Robert Saxton: ‘It is in short, concentrated readings, and particularly divinatory readings, that the changing lines come into their own. For those open-minded about chance, intuition and destiny, and the possible connections between them, it might be fruitful to experiment with the poem as an instrument—a mirror—for oracular introspection in the manner of the I Ching. ‘

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Six-way mirror.

Ed. Note — Robert Saxton’s ‘Six-Way Mirror’ is keyed from this page.

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64 The Book

‘HARMONY PREVAILS WHEN like things resonate and unlike things are in balance.’ (The Great Commentary, from the Ten Wings) He reads to Borges in a shadowy sitting room under a Piranesi engraving: he speaks of summer night, the conscious being of the book. A servant is taken exploring by his blind master on a raft […]

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63 The Twins

‘WHEN THEY COMPLAIN of waking from hideous laboratory dreams, just rattle off a couple of only child anecdotes.’ Modern life has become twin-friendly – there’s no longer any fear of people meeting themselves. Oddly, it’s an offshoot of the cult of the individual. Few twins are defriended. Some pranksters post a single photo twice with […]

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62 The Mouse

‘EXCHANGE OF HABITS is a high-risk adventure. The town mouse drowns in butter, the country mouse drowns in gin.’ Scamperings never seem to denote an actual mammal – as if these creatures were merely proxies for flesh and blood, a scratchy reminder. Too quick, too small, too shy to feature in creative visualisation, they meet […]

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61 The Shepherd

‘IF YOU MAKE a hit movie about a shepherd’s wife in Romania, the next role you’re offered will be a pig farmer’s wife in Spain.’ (anonymous film actress) His grandfather called things by their Norse names: ‘mowdies’ (moles), ‘mel’ (posthammer). He screams at his dog, swears at his son, curses rain, forms, hikers, pen pushers. […]

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60 The Word

‘WORDS RECEIVING THE gift of happiness; words conferring the gift of happiness. What a day of wonders!’ (ancient Chinese picnic scroll) Some words are skins of wild beasts, others satin or gold. Some fly, some crawl, shrivelling upon inspection; others stay majestically still. One will clamber from the rubble of collapsed temples, safe in a […]

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59 The Apple

‘AN APRON SAGGING with apples, red and green: the well-beloved, the Eve of the fair, the promise.’ The apple draws the earth as much as the earth draws the apple. Grafts were taken from the gravity park where genius found sanctuary from lawlessness. One scion growing outside college gates gives a moment’s foothold to a […]

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58 The Stairs

‘Building codes usually treat alternating tread stairs as ladders: they are allowed only where ladders are allowed. You can’t turn around on them.’ Ladders make for a treacherous descent. From a staircase you can aim a pistol or survey your admirers – and they you, head steady over a cascading dress, descending between hidden friezes, […]

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57 The Teacher

‘INSTEAD OF TASSEL and button, a mourning mortarboard is topped with a saltire of two black ribbons and, in the centre, a black ribbon rosette, grosgrain or satin.’ Having gathered up the grammars, she pushes the desks aside to clear a judo floor. First it’s boy against boy, girl against girl; later she mixes genders. […]

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56 The Village

‘THE BRAVE LIVES of the roundabout people, sharing the seasons and the stars, and keeping their smaller dramas to themselves.’ One village has farms down the main street! Another, a duck pond the size of Leicester Square. Advent is the yellow glow of windows in the year’s midnight – curtains are paranoid. Twilight is the […]

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