130. (Thomas Traherne)

    I was introduced to Traherne by Keith Waldrop; Waldrop was teaching a seminar in Restoration Literature, in which, with lasting impression, he indulged us in readings from both the forgotten and the admired greats of late-seventeenth-century poetry. Before reading from various poets, he would introduce them to the class with anecdotes and wry critical observations; along the way, he would stop for explanation … Continue reading 130. (Thomas Traherne)

129. (Ishion Hutchinson)

When a poet seems to matter, it often seems that his or her course matters too; they should be on a trajectory, arriving somewhere new, or returning us somewhere renewed. The movement between Ishion Hutchinson’s first collection, Far District, and his second, recently published, House of Lords and Commons, can be felt in the third and final stanza of the first poem, “Station”: . I … Continue reading 129. (Ishion Hutchinson)

128. (Sebastian Rödl)

Sebastian Rödl is a philosopher, not a poet, novelist, dramatist, or essayist. His appearance on this blog is an anomaly, prompted by the excitement and pleasure I took, as a non-philosopher, in reading his book, Self-Consciousness. I’m not qualified to assess his argument philosophically, but others have done so, and even as a non-philosopher, I can appreciate the movement, scope, and subtlety of his arguments. The … Continue reading 128. (Sebastian Rödl)

127. (George Eliot)

This post will open with George Eliot and then drift, possibly to return. For a starting point, consider one of the most beguiling and frustrating of passages in nineteenth-century British literature: Her finely-touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great … Continue reading 127. (George Eliot)

126. (Hanya Yanagihara)

I disliked the novel A Little Life intensely, at times because of the subject matter and the sheer difficulty of imagining what was being presented, but also at times because of the writing, because of a sense that this novel should have been written otherwise, should have been better. Everyone I know loves and loathes the novel in various proportion, with charges leveled at plausibility (how … Continue reading 126. (Hanya Yanagihara)

125. (Christina G. Rossetti)

Patience is the activity and end of Christina G. Rossetti’s poetry: patience for the time of God, for death, for the second coming, and patience with her fleeting passions. As a consequence, the volume of her output, the 800-odd pages in the Penguin Complete Poems, edited by R.W. Crump, is less surprising than it seems: patience must be repeatedly mastered and renewed; it cannot be … Continue reading 125. (Christina G. Rossetti)

124. (Ishion Hutchinson)

Some poets have more to say than others; some poets have better resource than others for saying what they want to say; Ishion Hutchinson is the rare poet who falls into both categories, and is even rarer for having the ambition to speak with authority. His collection Far District is as good as any contemporary poetry out there, and it’s exciting to read him as … Continue reading 124. (Ishion Hutchinson)

123. (Henry King)

Henry King (1592-1669), Bishop of Chichester, lived through one of the most turbulent eras of British history, sustained friendships with leading figures in politics and letters, and wrote some of the finest elegies of his age. He is not much read nowadays, but his elegy for his wife, “An Exequy to His Matchless Never to be Forgotten Friend,” is often anthologized, and his other poems … Continue reading 123. (Henry King)

122. (Percy Bysshe Shelley)

A poem by Shelley, with critical commentary following: When the lamp is shattered The light in the dust lies dead– When the cloud is scattered The rainbow’s glory is shed– When the lute is broken Sweet tones are remembered not– When the lips have spoken Loved accents are soon forgot. . As music and splendour Survive not the lamp and the lute, The heart’s echoes … Continue reading 122. (Percy Bysshe Shelley)

121. (Ishion Hutchinson)

Ishion Hutchinson is a genuinely exciting poet, a true heir (because he’s so obviously a true poet) to Bishop, Lowell, Heaney, Walcott…I would like to discuss some of his outstanding and dominant qualities. I’ll consider his work generally, but will begin by quoting a poem that provides some sense of what he is about, and what he does so distinctly well. Elsewhere, I will provide … Continue reading 121. (Ishion Hutchinson)