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One word says to its mate

Claire Harman: W.S. Graham, 4 October 2001

The Nightfisherman: Selected Letters of W.S. Graham 
edited by Michael Snow and Margaret Snow.
Carcanet, 401 pp., £12.95, November 1999, 1 85754 445 5
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... him a sizable audience. The Nightfisherman, a selection of Graham’s letters by his friends Michael and Margaret Snow, with 19 poems, photographs, drawings and his essay ‘Notes on a Poetry of Release’, is the most useful and revealing book on the poet yet published and sets out the clearest record of his ...

Five Poems

Günter Eich, translated by Michael Hofmann, 23 June 2005

... always loved nettles, and only now learned of their usefulness. Confined to Bed Angina days, blue snow, time tucked away in cut-out arches, time is blue, time is snow, red sleeves, black hat, time is a yellow woman. Angina days, Swiss, blue Devon, black Cambrium, commedia dell’arte time, slipper red and Silurian red, wall ...

Digital Recordings

Michael Hofmann, 20 June 1985

... below me – the presumed foundations, whichever of God’s creatures left their prints in the snow and didn’t turn aside, the taped felt undercarpet worn down by unknowns and by the organist of Chelmsford Cathedral – but I bring into it Trevor from downstairs, security guard at HMV and abject night-time guitarist, tapping his foot into a pile of ...

Two Poems

Michael Longley, 19 February 2004

... Until you came across the unimaginable – The frame of a motorbike (and a side-car’s) Hidden by snow and heather up a hill Near Ullapool, a twenties Blackburn of course, Skeleton recognising skull, and soul A monkey’s soul amalgamated with ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Force Majeure’, ‘Clouds of Sils Maria’, 7 May 2015

Force Majeure 
directed by Ruben Östlund.
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Clouds of Sils Maria 
directed by Olivier Assayas.
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... Even the avalanches are controlled, as we are informed several times: small explosions shift the snow around. ‘They know what they are doing,’ the father insists, reassuring his family. The snag is that they don’t, quite – and nor does he. An avalanche comes too close to a terrace where hotel guests are eating; everyone is afraid. The screen goes ...

Three Poems

John Burnside, 11 September 2014

... and strange, with a sister’s disdain, or a grandmother’s folded smile. Confiteor for Michael Krüger I heard something out by the gate and went to look. Dead of night; new snow, the larch woods filling slowly, stars beneath the stars. A single cry it was, or so it seemed, though nothing I had recognised as ...

In the Gasworks

David Wheatley, 18 May 2000

To Ireland, I 
by Paul Muldoon.
Oxford, 150 pp., £19.99, March 2000, 0 19 818475 1
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by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 64 pp., £7.99, February 1999, 0 571 19762 0
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The Birds 
translated by Paul Muldoon, by Richard Martin.
Gallery Press, 80 pp., £13.95, July 1999, 1 85235 245 0
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Reading Paul Muldoon 
by Clair Wills.
Bloodaxe, 222 pp., £10.95, October 1998, 1 85224 348 1
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... him, and he travels westward in the story’s visionary conclusion to do battle with the shade of Michael Furey. Snow is ‘general over Ireland’ while he does so; not only here, but in Muldoon’s last collection Hay, the colour white functions as a motif of death. One of Louis MacNeice’s best-known poems is about ...

Last Word

John Charap, 19 November 1981

The Physicists: A Generation that Changed the World 
by C.P. Snow.
Macmillan, 191 pp., £8.95, September 1981, 0 333 32228 2
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... At the time of his death in July of last year, C.P. Snow was working on this book. Its theme is the two-faced gift of physics and its applications, and of those who in not much over a generation have changed our world. Although he had completed only a first draft, his publishers have done well to let us have the book, for it is Snow at his best ...

Two Poems

John Burnside, 20 September 2001

... seem permanent, and ours; before it disappears, I will have named all we can see, from here to the snow on Kvannfjellet, the yarrow in the grass, a passing swan, eider and black-backed gull at the rim of the sound. I gloss uncertainties – this lime green weed that fetches up a yard above the tide; those seabirds in the channel, too far out to call for ...

Praying for an end

Michael Hofmann, 30 January 1992

Scenes from a Disturbed Childhood 
by Adam Czerniawski.
Serpent’s Tail, 167 pp., £9.99, October 1991, 1 85242 241 6
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Crossing: The Discovery of Two Islands 
by Jakov Lind.
Methuen, 222 pp., £14.99, November 1991, 0 413 17640 1
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The Unheeded Warning 1918-1933 
by Manes Sperber, translated by Harry Zohn.
Holmes & Meier, 216 pp., £17.95, December 1991, 0 8419 1032 4
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... power. Returning to bombed Warsaw in 1940: ‘The cactuses on the balcony were covered in snow. Under the snow they were green but they collapsed like punctured balloons when the snow was removed.’ That seems to me to be worth pages and pages of description and ...
Life of a Poet: Rainer Maria Rilke 
by Ralph Freedman.
Farrar, Straus, 640 pp., $35, March 1996, 0 374 18690 1
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Uncollected Poems 
by Rainer Maria Rilke and Edward Snow.
North Point Press/Farrar, Straus, 266 pp., $22, March 1996, 0 86547 482 6
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Rilke’s ‘Duino Elegies’: Cambridge Readings 
edited by Roger Paulin and Peter Hutchinson.
Duckworth/Ariadne, 237 pp., £30, March 1996, 1 57241 032 9
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... were finished, speaking of himself, as late as 1915, as ‘a beginner who can’t begin’. Edward Snow, in his Introduction to Uncollected Poems, calls this ‘sheer mythologising’, and reminds us that Rilke wrote poems prolifically and all the time – ‘in letters, in guest books, in presentation copies, and above all in the notebooks he always carried ...

Tortoises with Zips

David Craig: The Snow Geese by William Fiennes, 4 April 2002

The Snow Geese 
by William Fiennes.
Picador, 250 pp., £14.99, March 2002, 0 330 37578 4
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... about the swifts is part of a plan that knits together his quest for the breeding ground of snow geese in North-East Canada and his alternation between dependence on home and an urge to hive off. Having Paul Gallico’s Snow Goose read to him at prep school, rediscovering the novella in a hotel when he was ...

This happens every day

Michael Wood: On Paul Celan, 29 July 2021

Under the Dome: Walks with Paul Celan 
by Jean Daive, translated by Rosmarie Waldrop.
City Lights, 186 pp., £11.99, November 2020, 978 0 87286 808 3
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Microliths They Are, Little Stones: Posthumous Prose 
by Paul Celan, translated by Pierre Joris.
Contra Mundum, 293 pp., £20, October 2020, 978 1 940625 36 2
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Memory Rose into Threshold Speech: The Collected Earlier Poetry 
by Paul Celan, translated by Pierre Joris.
Farrar, Straus, 549 pp., £32, November 2020, 978 0 374 29837 1
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... probably written in 1955, which concentrates so firmly on its unmetaphorical snow that it is hard for us to think of anything else. But then it’s hard too not to think of the several different histories the snow invites us to imagine. What does snow have to do with ...


Colm Tóibín: In the Pyrenees, 6 January 1994

... was of a fertile valley, with rolling fields and poplar trees in the foreground, and masses of snow-capped peaks in the distance. It was spectacular, he said, awesome. It must once have been rich; but now nobody went there – it took five or six hours to get there from Barcelona. It was more than five thousand feet above sea-level – and you could rent a ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, 30 November 2017

Murder on the Orient Express 
directed by Kenneth Brannagh.
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... there a (fictional) man behind the moustache? Well, there is a director, who is also Branagh, and Michael Green, a thoughtful and inventive scriptwriter. They give shape and sense to a particular notion of Poirot. But it is Branagh’s acting that makes the notion work. I say this as a non-fan of his Shakespeare films (Hamlet, Henry V, Much Ado about ...

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