Peter Porter

Because We Can

This sensationWe say is the nationActing its destiny.How like is itTo the smaller act which here we see,The incomplete Devil paying a visit? We know it is our Fate to lack power —Is this our excuseThat we are very smallAmong demagogues whose job is to chooseThe Few’s good or the Good of All? Perhaps at homeThought might

Learning to weep in a museum

It is reasonable to assume that this is the first instalment of Robert Hughes’s autobiography. After 400 pages he takes us to his appointment as Time Magazine’s chief art critic in 1970, so The Shock of the New, The Fatal Shore and Goya lie in the future. Some might think that his choice of title

Leafing through the Latin Dictionary

fuga, fugas — music now, not backat school where Harry Roberts flashed his gown,a toga to berate a class as slackas Rome became; we’d been meant to be English Augustans, but were soon brought downto being worthy only of a fewemotive Saxon nouns and verbs: the sea had brought our Fathers to a sanded shore,packed

Master surveyor of many territories

This volume of several pounds weight and over 600 pages duration is an undeniably serious estimation of the last 250 years of European and American literature. The word panoptic might have been coined for Bayley: if not the monarch, he is at least the master of all he surveys. His readers had better be almost

Truly heroic couplets

Amid the enmities of contemporary letters, it’s salutary to recognise that for most of us allegiances go farther back, and are just as partisan. Neill Powell’s excellent evaluation of Crabbe delights me not just because Crabbe has always been one of my favourite poets but because this study of a writer usually held to be