TLM Issue

The Coldest Winter

Fatherbird perched on the country’s frozen edge. England! Bridlington Bay – He glanced from side to side and the wind blew away each glance. The sea with its iron-grey breadth of thought – surely the sea would freeze? Fatherbird – and a second bird – and a third: It’s an opportunity for us. Then we [...]


Little hole little well of dark staining the lacquer of my tooth little confessor coming close and coming close why are you pursuing me interrogator of the nerve in its garden of blood and moisture its long sleep what secrets can my nerve confess to you what do you want of us your drill and [...]

Footprints in the Snow

My mother used to say when a Robin hops into your house It does so as an omen forewarning coming doom (For one of her grey uncles had passed away soon after Playing enraptured host to such a rubecula visitor); The Redbreast is a fleeting guest, a chat come unannounced With unassuming friendliness, trusting in [...]

There are Precious Things

In carriage three of the 4.38 out of Mile End, there are precious things. Tanisha drops breathlessly into a seat. Today, her mother arrived late to look after Obi, and now she is worried she will be late for her shift for the third time this month. Each afternoon, when Obi comes home from school, [...]

The Imaginative Mind: Enchantment and Transcendence in John Ashbery’s Collected French Translations

  ‘Only connect . . .’ wrote E.M. Forster in Howards End. John Ashbery responds to this invitation with his incandescent two-volume Collected French Translations: Poetry and Prose, leaving us astonished. The bilingual Poetry volume, with the French originals printed en face, contains translations from twenty-four poets. It begins with the baroque poet Jean-Baptiste Chassignet, [...]

Old Possum’s Black Pages

  The astonishing two-volume The Poems of T.S. Eliot is a vast cathedral of dazzling scholarly annotation. Years in the making, and running to almost 2,000pp, it is set to become the definitive Eliot edition for every scholar and English Literature student for years to come. In fact, it’s difficult to see how this landmark [...]

Risk and Repetition

  Should you come upon this book in a shop, or see its title headlined in a review, it would be reasonable for you to consider whether or not to order it according to the degree of your interest in Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry. Should this be marginal, or even non-existent, you might decide to skim [...]

Modern Tinkering

Every age has a need to retell old stories and legends, to re-clothe the bones with new flesh; which makes each subsequent storyteller something of a necromancer, conjuring those relics into a fresh semblance of life. Recent research suggests that many traditional tales are much older than had previously been suspected. Officially dated back to [...]

Women at War

  In April last year a woman holding a camera was shot dead at a check- point in Afghanistan; the death of the woman, German photographer Anja Niedringhaus, was followed four weeks later by that of a young French photojournalist, Camille Lepage, who died of gunshot wounds in the Central African Republic. The abrupt deaths [...]

Icons of Desire

  Maria Loh ‘examines the subgenre of artist portraiture’ in the 16th and 17th centuries, and defines portraits as ‘the arena in which flesh and fantasy, memory and history, death and desire, battle one another for control’. Though portraits can clearly survive while their subjects are still alive, she maintains that the ‘mortal body must [...]

The Noise of Time

  In keeping with the current vogue for entwining fact and fiction, Julian Barnes’s latest novel is a fictionalised account of Dmitri Shostakovich’s un-easy relations with the Russian state in the days of the USSR. The tentacles of Soviet tyranny would come for the composer at twelve-year intervals: in 1936, in 1948 and 1960; The [...]

Auerbach’s Intimitable Magic

  When Frank Auerbach first came to public notice – emerged rather than burst – in the 1950s he was noted as a “British Expressionist” in the white hot enthusiasm for the American abstract colourists Clement Greenberg (not to mention the American government) was punting around the world with spectacular success. It was a gross [...]

Scarifying Confrontation: Pericles at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

  Pericles isn’t the easiest of Shakespeare’s plays either to like as literature or to enjoy on stage. There are several very good reasons for this. Firstly, it is a collaborative effort by Shakespeare and the third-rate dramatist, pamphleteer and one-time petty thief and pimp George Wilkins – or is generally accepted as such. The [...]

They Who Surround

  The story my grandfather told of how he and my grandmother would walk further and further into the woods, until she asked to be left there, was really one about crows, he’d say, and I would not understand. I was young, then, but I wasn't sure I would have understood anyway. My father told [...]


By early winter Our world begins to shift. Approaching dusk We stroll miles from houses Sunk into valleys of animal-empty fields The sky swells Leaching colour all the way down to darkened hills. Watery light seems to draw us in. Seaweedy mist moves with us Hangs onto our clothes. Trees become petrified Black coral scrolled [...]


They will be real clouds Danny Boyle A heathen ground elaborated by time’s fancy fingerwork – follow the thread, the line a lutanist discovered he could use to flatter, now cabled and wound to a shattering. Are electrical storm and golden bow and mysteriously moving rock a kind of spiritual opening, or democracy’s shutters? It’s [...]

Your Father in Slad Valley

Slad has beguiled generations of men and women to fall on muddy knees and play cider-games under broken hay carts. The women wore their mothers’ lipstick. Now, your vagabond father slumps, swallowing a Bloody Mary beside the valley. What rags he wears, what yellow teeth! Cursing immigrants for their greed, red running from his mouth. [...]


(Catullus 101) To fling your death on the hundred winds, to recite your dust in the lapsing wave, to loose your bones, to lieve your lips, to stand in a sun-dim mist of prayer, to be without you, brother, a shadow gnawing on the vanished air, my voice the rain that journeys here continually, to [...]

About my Father

  I drove down to Chislehurst to clear his room, after he died. He’d not been there long, in that place, a month or two. It was a cold room, north facing and dark, on the ground floor. I had tried to get them to move him, but he was almost blind and they wouldn’t [...]

My London

  Tristram Fane Saunders is a poet, journalist and director. His most recent chapbook, Postcards from Sulpicia (Tapsalteerie, 2015), is an illustrated translation of the complete surviving works of Ancient Rome’s only extant female poet. He works on the culture desk of The Telegraph. This is the 16th article in our regular series “My London”. [...]

The Village: Past & Present

  In the years before WW1, Greenwich Village developed a reputation as a bohemian neighborhood with low rents, picturesque, meandering side streets and tiny alleys, and a tolerance for political radicalism and eccentric and nonconformist behavior. Most residents may have been working class or remnants of the upper class that populated Henry James or Edith [...]

Remembering John McGahern

  March 2016 sees the tenth anniversary of John McGahern's death. Author of six novels, three stand-alone collections of short stories, one play, a memoir and numerous essays and reviews, McGahern was Ireland's most accomplished writer of prose fiction since Joyce and Beckett, and I have been an ardent admirer of his work since my [...]

In Search of a Literary Life

  Every year, with the anti-climatic regularity of the cuckoo clock’s chirp, another gaggle of English graduates is turned loose upon the world to seek out the employment for which that area of study has, theoretically, pre­pared them. With eyes wide as soup bowls, and heads churning with a sinister salad of romantic poetry, rudimentary [...]

Informing Beauty: Kathleen Raine

  Once in a while you read a book that sets off an electric charge inside you. Usually it coheres with your unconscious ideas and is quite distinct from the feeling of reading a thriller whose pages you devour with unfocused gusto. This you ingest in measured spoonfuls, allowing its content to echo in your [...]

Redefining Chivalry

  Yet some men say in many parts of England that King Arthur is not dead, but had by the will of our Lord Jesu into another place; and men say that he shall come again, and he shall win the holy cross. I will not say it shall be so, but rather I will [...]

To Wine by Jorge Luis Borges

In Homer’s bronze resplendence, your name was seen to shine, you who make glad the heart of man, you dark mysterious wine. For centuries on centuries you’ve passed from hand to hand, from rhyton of Achaean to horn of Allemand: for you were there when morning broke: you gave the passing years, the mortal generations, [...]

Watching RAF Bombers

By Grasmere mountains, patched like camouflage, Tornados fly in glamorous great-paced dressage, Their pilots like augmented spirits, one With banking fellside and omniscient sun, And air is roaring like a rending veil From Steel Fell all the way to Patterdale: Frisson of terror, but what shrink and burn This time are only fern fronds as [...]

A Roman Tombstone at Annaba

My name was - What does it matter? – Paulus Silentiarius It would happen so easily. The harassed mason, busy elsewhere, leaves a small job of lettering to his journeyman. Nothing elaborate, no bigwig’s lengthy encomium; the master would have seen to that himself. Five words, a modest inscription for a modest stone. And besides, [...]