Selected Poems of Christopher Logue by Christopher Reid (ed) - review by André Naffis-Sahely

André Naffis-Sahely


Selected Poems of Christopher Logue


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When Christopher Logue died in 2011, his modernist interpretation of Homer’s Iliad, War Music, remained unfinished. But in the forty-two years separating Patrocleia (1963) and Cold Calls (2005), respectively its first and final instalments, Logue’s project drew a great deal of admirers, including George Steiner, Louis MacNeice and Henry Miller, to name only a famous few. Eliminating the centuries dividing the Trojan War and the Second World War, Logue re-envisioned the Greek armies gliding ‘from parapet to plane to beach-head’ as he transformed Homer’s epic into a jazzy performance poem, where heroes are ‘pistol-whipped’ by envy and Prince Hector ‘jives’ on his heel. Arguably, the true strength of Logue’s Homer lay in its translator’s desire to become the choreographer of battle scenes, freezing the frame in order to draw out the moment’s bloodiness: ‘As the axe swings up, and stays,/Stays poised, still poised, and –/As it comes down://“PLEASE GOD!”’ David Wheatley deemed it ‘the great anti-heroic poem of our age’. It will very likely be remembered as being among the outstanding renditions of the Iliad.

Nevertheless, the near-universal praise heaped on Logue’s Homer has overshadowed everything else in what was one of the most interesting poetic careers in 20th-century Britain. Born in Portsmouth in 1926, Logue vanished off to Paris in 1951 after an undistinguished spell in the army. He remained in the

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