Jeremy Noel-Tod

Jeremy Noel-Tod is about to start a PhD in modern poetry at Cambridge.

The Eng. Lit. Patient: Andrew Motion

Jeremy Noel-Tod, 11 September 2003

John Keats John Keats John Please put your scarf on.

The author of these lines is J.D. Salinger’s fictional child-poet, Seymour Glass, showing a precocious acquaintance with literary history for an eight-year-old: his source seems to be an 1821 review of Adonais, Shelley’s elegy on Keats, in the Literary Gazette. The reviewer described the poem as a lament for

a foolish young...

Awkward Bow: Geoffrey Hill

Jeremy Noel-Tod, 6 March 2003

The first poem of For the Unfallen (1958), Geoffrey Hill’s first book, was entitled ‘Genesis’. It declared:

By blood we live, the hot, the cold, To ravage and redeem the world: There is no bloodless myth will hold.

Hot blood is at the heart of Hill’s theological, oppositional poetics. Man’s passions may turn vicious, but without them he is unredeemable. Hence...

‘The nearest approach to this,’ I said, ‘would be a Vermeer.’

Yes, a Vermeer. For that mysterious artist was trebly gifted – with the vision that perceives the Dharma-Body as the hedge at the bottom of the garden, with the talent to render as much of that vision as the limitations of human capacity admit, and with the prudence to confine himself in his...

A bird that isn’t there: R.F. Langley

Jeremy Noel-Tod, 8 February 2001

After J.H. Prynne’s weighty Poems (Bloodaxe) surfaced, like the Kraken, in high-street bookshops in 1999, the complete R.F. Langley looked like a pretty small unnumbered polypus in comparison. Prynne and Langley are of an age (in their early sixties) and, superficially, of a school: both are connected with the small-press poetry world centred on Cambridge, which has, since the 1960s,...

Out of the Eater: Thom Gunn

Jeremy Noel-Tod, 6 July 2000

Thom Gunn has an intelligent rock star’s ear for titles: Fighting Terms, My Sad Captains, Touch, Moly, Jack Straw’s Castle, The Man with Night Sweats. Punchy and enigmatic, they read like the back catalogue of a highbrow, low-life singer-songwriter. The career they mark has always had an air of rock rebellion about it, too: soon after publishing his debut collection (which appeared while he was still an undergraduate), Gunn moved to California and produced poems influenced by the emergent youth culture, hymning Elvis and black-leather ‘boys’ on motorbikes. By the early 1960s he was reported to be experimenting with syllabic verse and LSD. After the buttoned-up forms and conceits of his early work, Gunn seemed gradually to be learning to let it all hang out, and as the hippy pop of the 1960s gave way to the self-indulgent ‘progressive’ rock of the 1970s, he published a memorably terrible two-line tribute to Jefferson Airplane:‘

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