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Cluster index: Martin Sorrell


Martin Sorrell: ‘The greatest part of Victor’s pleasure was that calico music, which he relished as fully as he could by closing his eyes and letting his ears fill with the engine note, which grew as each machine reaffirmed itself over the round hill, then passed directly overhead, descending to the landing strip, sometimes battling headwinds coming off the sea. He learnt to distinguish between the sound the various planes made. Eyes closed, he arranged them in his head as if he were a composer.’

Transits of Venus.

Martin Sorrell: ‘This transition to the vertical was as swift and fluent as had been the movement from lying to sitting, and even more startling. For what we saw, as she stood there, ramrod-straight, was that she had only one leg. The other one ended well above the knee. But there she was, perfectly balanced, perfectly still. She said a few words to her companion, presumably about a dip. Five hops took her into the water. For a minute or two, she simply floated; then she started to move.’

A ‘pomenvylope’ by Nicholas Moore.

Martin Sorrell: The type is blotchy, made worse by an expiring ribbon and a clutter of corrections hammered over the several typos. This ‘pomenvylope’, and the few others I’ve managed to read, speak to me of the frustration Moore lived with for the decades after brief fame had become neglect. They express the dogged endurance of a poet still possessed of a strong voice and the wish to have it heard.

Ah Dieu! Apollinaire. 9 November 1918.

Martin Sorrell: So was Apollinaire the lone innovator? Was there anyone comparable writing in English? As Tim Kendall points out, it took David Jones, who’d served in that war, nearly twenty years to produce work such as “In Parenthesis”. Apollinaire, on the other hand, wrote both spontaneously and experimentally, out of the here and now. Take “Flare”, a poem of erotic charge – even yearning.

John Ashbery’s illumination of a mercurial adolescent.

Martin Sorrell: The translations made by an American octogenarian of a mercurial French adolescent bring us as close as we are likely to get in English to the wellspring of his genius. The distance in age and place between poet and translator is a happy irony. Ashbery’s Illuminations are set to become classic.

Rimbaud’s mad boat: Some thoughts on translating poetry.

Martin Sorrell: I wonder if purists work on the principle, which may or may not be unconscious, that there is one ideal translation for every poem, which, once attained, will put paid to the need for all others. On the other hand, is it that the translator who goes for versions is a relativist who can live with imperfection? Fabulous things have come out of the latter position. Wasn’t the King James Bible translated by a committee of relativists? Some purists say that if you want the truth, you’ll have to go back further, to the Hebrew and Greek.

Three encounters near Kerala. December 2006.

Martin Sorrell: Notes from Kerala.

Two poems from the hôpital Broussais, September 1893.

Nicolson: ‘The real centre of his hospital life was, however, to be the Hôpital Broussais, in the rue Didot, which he first entered in December 1886. Verlaine always had a weakness for this particular hospital. ‘