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Cluster index: Harry Guest

The Lay of Love and Death of Christoph Cornet Rilke von Langenau.

Rilke: ‘Outside, a storm is racing across the sky, breaking the night into pieces, white pieces, black ones. The moonlight goes past like a drawn-out lightning flash and the flag which doesn’t move has restless shadows. It is dreaming.’

How we knew.

Harry Guest: ‘One of the reasons why I took early retirement ̶ with sadness, really, because I had very much enjoyed 37 years sharing what I had discovered with eager pupils (hordes of whom were far more intelligent than myself) ̶ was seeing a test paper for the replacement of O Level by GCSE. There was a photograph of a French square. The candidates had to find “where your father would get
petrol and where you would go for lunch” so that the examiner could see they knew the French for “Garage” as well as “Restaurant”.’

Three poems by Anne Mounic.

Anne Mounic: ‘Plenitude, integrity, some inner stirring –
the soul, once one gives in to self from self,
achieves its own new music, depicting
slow flow of river between fields and woods
about to flourish green once more.’

The preface to ‘Émaux et camées’.

Gautier: ‘I wrote, although the hurricane
lashed windows which I always close,
Enamels first, then Cameos.’

Peter Dent’s ‘starmaps left for night’.

Harry Guest: ‘You are more on your own reading Peter Dent’s work than with perhaps any other contemporary poet. Yes, you are reminded of W.H.Graham’s pursuit of the sayable, but Dent, asking “what thought thinks about”, is in a curious way both more lucid and more elusive – or you may compare him with a novelist like Pinget who is simultaneously precise and baffling, although Dent with his “wish to find perfection in the incomplete” gives us recipes for complicity in his research. His admiration for Lorine Niedecker’s “eagerness to know and learn” is understandable and he shares her sense of wonder plus her intensely delicate focus on the immediate – in his case, red bars of an electric fire that “glow and hum” or a woodlouse “rolling up”.’

A ‘slanting view’ of Peter Redgrove.

Harry Guest; ‘He came
to my 21st birthday party bearing
a beautiful copy of Gilbert White’s
Natural History of Selborne
illustrated by Edmund New.’

Links from a forgotten chain.

Harry Guest: ‘…high language may
conceal discrepancies when colours leave,
shapes alter, former echoes don’t
even disturb the cobwebs…’

Anthony Rudolf’s literary Wunderkammer.

Harry Guest: ‘The important thing is that silent conversations is a gloriously entertaining and a most rewarding publication. To share the reading experiences of such a poet-scholar-translator-editor-critic is a rare privilege and this book is worthy to be spoken of in company with Montaigne’s Essays, Evelyn’s Diary and Stendhal’s Vie de Henry Brulard.’