Craig Raine

Craig Raine’s My Grandmother’s Glass Eye: A Look at Poetry will be published in December.

Poem: ‘Gatwick’

Craig Raine, 4 June 2015

I Tom Stoppard sold his house in France: ‘I was sick of spending so much time at Gatwick.’

II At the UK Border, I double and treble through the retractable queuing barrier.

Now I have my passport splayed at the requisite page.

She glances, she frowns, she turns it upside down so it can be read by a machine. She stares at a screen.

And then she asks, looking up from her desk:...

Like a throw of shot silk, its blue brilliance calmed by the iron, completed, so you can clearly see the alternative versions.

This is the first thing,The first thing you feelWhen you happen to findThat the worst thing,The worst thing that could happenHas happened for real.

And everything adds up to a pattern,So that it’s certain now,As if there’s somehow a curtainDrawn back in...

Kipling and Modernism

Craig Raine, 6 August 1992

At the outset of his long literary career, Rudyard Kipling was apparently content to recognise the distinction between verse and poetry, and, if we are to judge from his letter to Caroline Taylor of 9 December 1889, equally content to accept that his own place was below the salt: ‘I am not a poet and never shall be – but only a writer who varies fiction with verse.’

Nabokov ‘had a flypaper feel for words’, according to Alison Bishop, who knew him at Cornell when she was a child. He might, therefore, have relished his biographer coming mildly unstuck in the course of this otherwise tenacious, intricately argued, judicious account of Nabokov’s life in the States, and, post-Lolita, in Montreux. Disposing of Andrew Field, his predecessor in the field, Brian Boyd cites his insolent, perfunctory response to one of Nabokov’s factual corrections. Told an event had taken place in July and not on ‘a wet autumnal day’, Field emended the phrase to ‘a wet autumnal day in July’ – a covert imputation and rebuke of pedantry, not without a certain Nabokovian brilliance. The brilliance is unconsciously acknowledged by Boyd some forty pages later when his own phrase, ‘a wretched autumnlike spring’, revisits the trope.’


Craig Raine, 13 June 1991

Matrioshki are those wooden, hollow, biologically improbable Russian dolls, sarcophagus-shaped and too rudimentary for much in the way of features or waists. In terms of beauty, they have all the allure of a thermos flask in national dress. What they lack in looks, however, they make up for in fecundity. Each holds several increasingly small replicas, one inside another. In their way, they are the perfect emblem for translation – for perfect translation, that is, where some diminishment is inevitable, but the model and the copy are otherwise identical. This depends, of course, on the given simplicity of the original. Anything too complicated – poetry, for instance – and, until quite recently, you might have found yourself looking for an entirely different image.

Count the Commas: Craig Raine’s novel

Terry Eagleton, 24 June 2010

Craig Raine’s Heartbreak is a novel in the sense in which Eton is a school near Slough. The description is true but misleading. It is really a collection of short stories, loosely linked by...

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Is it always my fault? T.S. Eliot

Denis Donoghue, 25 January 2007

In 1929, in his essay on Dante, T.S. Eliot wrote: But the question of what Dante ‘believed’ is always relevant. It would not matter, if the world were divided between those persons...

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Yoked together

Frank Kermode, 22 September 1994

‘There is hardly a stanza in the long poem which is not vivid, hardly one which is not more or less odd, and the reader feels ... as if he had been riding on the rims over an endless timber...

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Being all right, and being wrong

Barbara Everett, 12 July 1990

Men of different generations and presumably social worlds, Anthony Powell and Craig Raine aren’t much alike as writers. But the novelist’s Miscellaneous Verdicts and the poet’s

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Puck’s Dream

Mark Ford, 14 June 1990

D.J. Enright recently celebrated his 70th birthday. In commemoration, Oxford University Press have prepared a rather lean Selected Poems, and a volume of personal reminiscences and critical...

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John Bayley, 19 February 1987

Charlie Chaplin was not hopeful when the talkies arrived in Hollywood. ‘It would mean giving up my tramp character entirely. Some people suggested that the tramp might talk. This was...

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Tales of Hofmann

Blake Morrison, 20 November 1986

The acrimony in Michael Hofmann’s book is that of a son towards his father. Like a family photograph album, the sequence ‘My Father’s House’ records the son’s growth...

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Sweaney Peregraine

Paul Muldoon, 1 November 1984

The title-sequence of Seamus Heaney’s sixth collection finds him on Station Island, Lough Derg, more commonly known as St Patrick’s Purgatory. It’s the setting for a pilgrimage...

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Best Things

Alan Hollinghurst, 20 August 1981

By and large we are interested in the thoughts, opinions and intentions of writers we are interested in, and by and large writers are keen to express these things in reviews, essays and memoirs...

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A Martian School of two or more

James Fenton, 6 December 1979

Craig Raine’s second collection follows swiftly upon his first, The Onion, Memory (1978). It is as if the poet had been waiting impatiently over us, while we picked ourselves up off the...

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