Heaney nails R.S. Thomas in on of the Stepping Stones interviews with Dennis O’Driscoll: He got very far as a poet, a loner taking on the universe, a kind of Clint Eastwood of the spirit. Hilarious. As well as accurate and affectionate. If there isn’t an R.S.Thomas collection called Unforgiven, there should be.
Dryden had virulent enemies in his time. His satires and the king’s favour enraged John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, who legend says had him mugged one night in a dark passageway off Garrick Street, near Covent Garden. (Michael Schmidt, Lives of the Poets, p.300) I’m not a big fan of Dryden’s poetry, and there’s nothing […]
I have an especially happy memory of writing ‘Bog Queen’ Because it was the first time in my life, believe it or not, that I’d spent a whole uninterrupted work day on a poem. Before we moved to Wicklow, you know, my time wasn’t particularly my own: there was always the Queen’s job, or the […]
How about this for a piece of verbal magic in Heaney’s elegy for a ‘favourite aunt’ (in District and Circle): She took the risk, at last, of certain joys — Her birdtable and jubilating birds, The ‘fashion’ in her wardrobe and tallboy. Look how hard the word ‘jubilating’ is working here — except it’s not […]
Allen Ginsberg pops up in the Dylan documentary No Direction Home and gives this impromptu definition of poetry: Poetry is words that are empowered to make your hair stand on end, that you recognise instantly as being some form of subjective truth that has an objective reality to it, because somebody’s realised it. Then you […]