Drunk on Birdsong

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Lucasta Miller’s devotion to Keats is everywhere apparent in this interesting yet infuriating book, written to mark the 2021 bicentenary of the poet’s death. Keats begins with a consideration of ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’. The author then moves on in turn to the opening of Endymion, ‘Isabella; or, the Pot of Basil’, ‘The […]

Falsely, Madly, Deeply

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Heartbreak is something that many poets do well, but none do it better than Heinrich Heine. His first substantial collection, which came out in 1827, when he was thirty years old, contained compelling poems of love and loss that amply justified its title, Buch der Lieder (‘Book of Songs’). Heine’s lyrics soon attracted the attention […]

In Sickness & in Verse

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Ba, as others called her, or EBB, as Elizabeth Barrett Browning referred to herself both before and after marriage, was a startlingly precocious child, gobbling Shakespeare, Pope, Milton and Locke before she was out of single figures. She was born in 1806, the eldest of twelve siblings, wrote verse to order and was addressed as […]

Last Words

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

At Plymouth last year I visited the home of Charles Armitage Brown, John Keats’s friend and collaborator. Set back behind trees, Brown’s Regency villa resembles Wentworth Place, the home he had shared with the young poet, who died, aged twenty-five, of tuberculosis. For fifteen years Brown thought about writing a memoir of Keats, but was […]

Voice from the Asylum

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Among the bombings that marked the beginning of 2017, one took place on New Year’s Day at the CasaPound bookshop in Florence, an outpost of the Italian neo-fascist or ‘alt-right’ CasaPound movement, which takes its name and inspiration from the American poet Ezra Pound. As Daniel Swift points out in the ‘CasaPound’ chapter of The Bughouse, in December 2011 ‘a CasaPound supporter went on a shooting spree in a market in Florence and killed two Senegalese traders and wounded three more’. He also notes

The Clutch of Earth

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

For a long time now, the poet Seamus Heaney has been obliged to make terms with the admiring consensus about his own poetry. This could be seen as a happy position, a problem, or, more accurately, a combination of both. The poetry audience, like that more general readership into which Heaney (almost uniquely among modern […]

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