Poem: Snow falls on the suburban plain

Here is a poem that I will before too long include in a collection titled Dr Cogito's Rebellion. Snow falls on the suburban plain. I shelter, wrapped in a library of wool. The prophecies of last winter Stand unproven before me. Was the doom of governments so sure? Did the blood-dimm’d tide swell and fall … Continue reading Poem: Snow falls on the suburban plain

Cantos from a cage

What thou lovest well remains,                                                   the rest is dross What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee What thou lov’st well is thy true heritage Whose world, or mine or theirs                                             or is it of none? First came the seen, then thus the palpable … Continue reading Cantos from a cage

Axel’s Castle, a mirror and an encyclopaedia

When I was about fifteen, I found Edmund Wilson's Axel's Castle in a library. It was my introduction to literary modernism, and their progenitors, the French symbolists. Over time I would read most of the authors to whom Wilson was my accidental host: Yeats, Joyce, Proust, Valery, Eliot, Stein. In time, I would find other … Continue reading Axel’s Castle, a mirror and an encyclopaedia

Fragments on tradition

Today's cultures are both disintegrating and proliferating. Any writer has to hand the near infinite profusion of symbolic thought of every culture across history. They are there to be used with the simplicity of an internet search. But their readiness-to-hand does not make them vital traditions, but cut and paste decorations of the modern soul … Continue reading Fragments on tradition

Regaining time

The other evening, I pulled from the shelf the sixth and last volume of Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time, or to use the Scott-Moncrieff translation, still evocative across the Anglophone countries with their Shakespearean heritage, Remembrance of Things Past. This volume, Finding Time Again, in the awkward 2002 translation of Ian Patterson, or … Continue reading Regaining time

Cultural collapse: Delhi 1857

"This whole city has become a desert." Ghalib 1861 William Dalrymple's The Last Mughal: the Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi 1857 is a great tragedy, and its fallen hero is the culture of the Mughal court. Under Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar II (1775-1862), the Mughal court and Delhi society experienced a cultural renaissance of sorts. … Continue reading Cultural collapse: Delhi 1857