Something more pressing

Something more pressing

Yes, you can find a thousand things more urgent than writing, or at least more insistent. Writing for this and other websites takes precedence over a series of children’s stories I have begun. Blogs have a rhythm or schedule, books are open-ended. I find time...
Being never wholly so

Being never wholly so

This line from a poem concerns being and being written or heard about.  If it isn’t written (and presumably, read) or told (and presumably, heard), it cannot fully be. I don’t believe I fully agree but it’s something to think about. ‘… what is...
Roughing out poems

Roughing out poems

Hand-written notes and journals have a magic to them. Durrell is a favourite poet and his house in Greece was as close to the coast as you can be without getting your feet wet.  Were these spatterings the voice of the sea telling him when he had a fine turn of phrase,...
Diving in head first

Diving in head first

Keats was a bold player, keeping his eye determinedly focussed on achieving enduring greatness, not on the fads and fashions of the critical present. His letters reveal his willingness to fly in the face of, and transcend, the vagaries of reviewers. Here he uses a...
Insubstantial rock-hard durability

Insubstantial rock-hard durability

The durability of things and of cultures intrigues me; and particularly when those artefacts are themselves physically fragile or insubstantial. Here, Adam Nicolson demonstrates that durability need not be carved in stone; in many cases it is simply continuing...
Barefoot erudition

Barefoot erudition

Patrick Leigh Fermor wore his vast learning lightly, as real scholars often do. Here he more than meets his match – and sees through his own presumption – when an old man instantly discerns the metre of a local dirge. Long live lay learning! ‘A...
Fine writing, fine doing

Fine writing, fine doing

My earliest impressions of Keats were as a languishing poetic type, not a man of action.  Now, after getting to know him through his letters (among the best I have read), he comes across as a vital, life-loving and out-stepping person, even though destroyed by illness...
The sonnet never written

The sonnet never written

This is one of the longest and most entertaining chapters in Machado de Assis’ novel Don Casmurro, a fictional memoir of the eponymous narrator.  Many of the other chapters are shorter than a sonnet, but I liked this one, describing the sonnet he almost wrote,...
Hospitality protocol 101

Hospitality protocol 101

Homer is awash with examples of great hospitality and generosity between hosts and guests, even uninvited ones washing up on the beach. Here is a pithy proverb summing up the responsibility of each. Logue’s magnificent rendition of several books of the...

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