Grey Gowrie

A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney by Martin Gayford

Like his contemporary and fellow Yorkshireman, Alan Bennett, whom he slightly resembles physically, David Hockney has been loved and admired throughout his lifetime. He painted one of his greatest works, ‘A Grand Procession of Dignitaries in the Semi-Egyptian Style’ in 1961 while still at the Royal College of Art. He has dazzled, surprised and often

Undoing the folded lie

 by , , , ISBN When you buy this book (and buy you should for reasons that follow), try reading the notes to A New Waste Land before the poem itself. This is not because the poem is ‘difficult’ or in any sense obscure. On the contrary, Horowitz is an oral poet, a performer: veteran

Bells to St Wystan

This week sees the centenary of the birth in York of W. H. Auden. All over the world this season, Audenites should at 1755 hours precisely prepare a very cold, very dry Martini and at 1800 hours, six o’clock, again precisely, down it in praise and memory of a giant of English letters. Vital to


Medley of horses by the motorwayuntethered; the field surplus to transportor agriculture. At this speed the horses looklike Travellers’ horses beside a leftover woodwhere smoke rising sketches a caravan.As we flash by our road draws its own wake,a joyful anarchy of second growth — beechy and larchy shoots, scrub, militant bindweedwhose canker lilies, malign and

The higher slopes of Parnassus

The Gallery Press, Loughcrew, Oldcastle, Co. Meath, Ireland, ‘August for the people and their favourite islands,’ wrote W. H. Auden in a poem from his early Marxist phase. This holiday season brings from our adjoining island a parcel of poetry better suited to Christmas or some elate private festival, a salvation of riches. Literary

The sensuous recluse

What in the world has happened to the culture of France? If you enter a room almost anywhere in the West when two or three of the arterati are gathered together and ask them to name interesting young artists, no one will mention anyone French. The same goes for literature and drama. In music there

A celebration with a warning

Geoffrey Hill publishes books in verse rather than collections of poems. This is admirable but presents a reviewer with problems. You want to recommend him more or less unconditionally as England’s best hope for the Nobel Prize. At the same time, there is the risk that new readers, acquainted with the easy-going chattiness of Betjeman,

Zimmerman bound or unbound?

What is going on here? What on earth is going on here? Christopher Ricks, the world’s leading critic of poetry in English, Frank Kermode and the American Helen Vendler his only rivals, has devoted, has lavished 500 pages of hard-core, hardback, exegetical analysis to the words which propel Bob Dylan’s songs. The issue is not

For the union dead

‘When I die,’ Robert Lowell told me, three days before he did die, in 1977, at the age of 60, ‘Elizabeth’s shares will rise and mine will fall. But mine will come back.’ Elizabeth, in this context, was Elizabeth Bishop, who with Randall Jarrell was Lowell’s correspondent and best friend in the art. His temperament

Grand, ritzy and splendid

A consolation of being an international foot-in-the-door man in the 1970s, albeit one selling Monets and Moores, not Hoovers, was arriving from JFK at the Hotel Carlyle in Manhattan. You reached the superlative place at about 10 in the evening, and even though flesh complained that it was the middle of the night, spirit insisted