Category: Poetry

  • Resonances in the Poetry of J.H. Prynne

    Since I have spent more time with the work of J.H. Prynne, I am forced to revise my statement from an earlier post on ambiguity in Marvell and Prynne, in which I concluded that we miss the point if we look for meaning in his poetry. At the last meeting of the Culture Club we […]

  • Marvell and Prynne – The Delights and Dangers of Ambiguity

    Andrew Marvell and J.H. Prynne make for an illuminating comparison if you consider both in terms of their approach to ‘poetic ambiguity’. Leonard Bernstein, in his lecture The Delights and Dangers of Ambiguity, makes much of the role of ambiguity in the history of music and poetry (and by implication the other arts also). He […]

  • The Fascination of Blake

    Since the last meeting I have found that Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell has really stayed with me. And so I was delighted and interested to see a great piece by Philip Pullman in the Christmas edition of The New Statesman with an intensely personal view on how Blake resonates with us all. I’m […]

  • Was William Blake Mad?

    GK Chesterton put it like this: And now, after a due pause, someone will ask and we must answer a popular question which, like many popular questions, is really a somewhat deep and subtle one. To put the matter quite simply, as the popular instinct would put it, ‘Was William Blake mad?’ Alexander Gilchrist, Blake’s […]

  • The Musical Structure of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

    A Midsummer Night’s Dream is surely the most musical of Shakespeare’s plays. In its verse, its rhythm and even its structure, it is never far from musical forms of expression. One of history’s greatest Shakespearean interpreters and critics, Harley Granville Barker said of this piece, ‘it is less a play… than a musical symphony’, and […]

  • The Argument Between Law and Love – A Common Theme

    When we picked the works for this month’s Culture Club, we chose them based on the concept of the supernatural, and the idea of ‘moving between different worlds’. But I’ve discovered another common theme among the major works we’re discussing (Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Powell & Pressburger’s […]

  • William Blake Invents Free Verse in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

    Alicia Oistriker, leading Blake authority and editor of the Penguin Complete Poems of William Blake, claims that The Argument (plate 2) of the Marriage of Heaven and Hell (see below) is the first example of free verse in English. THE ARGUMENT Rintrah roars & shakes his fires in the burden’d air; Hungry clouds swag on […]

  • William Blake, The Ghost of a Flea

    I was fascinated (and entertained) by this discussion of a picture of William Blake’s in Chesterton’s short biography of Blake. It’s not only a highly entertaining read, and a valuable insight into the picture under discussion, but I think it reveals a lot about the artist William Blake, both as painter and poet. As it’s […]

  • William Blake and the Romantic Conception of the Individual

    In his book The Romantics, Neil King defines Blake as part of the Romantic movement in the following way: Blake was not interested in strict representational ‘correctness’ but was more concerned with bringing out imaginatively what an experience meant to him. In this Blake is characteristically Romantic, believing in the centrality of the imagination, and […]

  • David Byrne on Fairie Culture

    David Byrne (artist, musician, ex-lead singer of the Talking Heads) discusses fairie culture on his blog: David Byrne Journal: 10.30.06: The Secret Commonwealth. Quote: ‘Yeats claimed that the Irish were better writers than the English because of their belief in Fairie culture — that these irrational roots left the imagination less fettered.’ One can imagine […]