Monday, 10 November 2014

Poetry family trees

I enjoyed reading George Szirtes' piece on Clive James's Poetry Notebook, so flagging it up for your enjoyment is reason enough to be posting here.

Now I'll admit that I've never been the biggest fan of James's poetry or criticism, although that may have more to do with struggling to forgive him for inflicting Margarita Pracatan, a joke of approximately 30 seconds duration, on a helpless nation for what seemed like years. I should put those prejudices aside and give him another go, and George's article makes a very good case for that.

Anyway, to the main point of my post. He describes James's poetry thus: "...full of an energy that is partly Augustan but racier, as if Dr Johnson had sealed a pact with the 19th-century poet Winthrop Mackworth Praed".

The worthy Mr Praed is an ancestor of mine, on my mother's side of the family - I have cousins with Praed as a middle name, and the Praeds can still be found down in Cornwall around St Michael's Mount. I haven't, to my shame, read much of old Winthrop's work, but that's something else I'll put right soon.

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