Let There Be Light

The New Oxford Book of English Light Verse

chosen and edited by Kingsley Amis
When T.S. Eliot found himself with, for whatever reason, time to kill—waiting for a train, for example—it was his habit to repeat to himself, as far as his memory allowed him to reconstruct them, certain favorite poems. It was a very miscellaneous list, this private anthology of Elliot’s. It included, …

Byron’s Baby

Byron's Hebrew Melodies

edited by Thomas L. Ashton

Byron's Daughter

by Catherine Turney
Among the Victorian junk I inherited from a gaggle of great-aunts is a set of editions of Byron’s early poems, still in their original dirty-brown paper covers. Several of them are first editions, though their market value is inconsiderable. I must admit that I have not noticed any thumbmarks or …

Grendel and Beowulf Were Two Pretty Boys


translated with an Introduction and Afterword by Burton Raffel, Drawings by Leonard Baskin


by John Gardner, illustrated by Emil Antonucci
What is Beowulf? Or rather—a more problematical problem this—why is Beowulf? What ought our attitude be to it today? In all this I am referring, of course, to the long eighth-century Anglo-Saxon poem only recently accorded the title Beowulf (the single extant manuscript in the British Museum is without one) …

An Ugly Faced Man

William Wordsworth: The Later Years 1803-1850

by Mary Moorman

The Landscape of Memory

by Christopher Salvesen
“Notes are often necessary, but they are necessary evils.” Samuel Johnson’s rueful comment on his own heavily annotated edition of Shakespeare applies with an even greater force to any cradle-to-grave biography of an author. Unfortunately we cannot do without such aids to understanding. Faced with the six hundred pages of …

Blake and the Scholars: II

The Poetry and Prose of William Blake

edited by David V. Erdman, commentary by Harold Bloom

A Blake Dictionary: The Ideas and Symbols of William Blake

by S. Foster Damon
In the House of Commons a hundred years ago a false quantity in a Latin quotation might ruin a promising political career. So at any rate the legend goes. Today, if an episode for which I happen to have first-hand authority is representative, a misquotation from Blake—the one English Romantic …

The Language Barrier

A Dictionary of Modern English Usage

by H.W. Fowler, Second Edition, revised and edited by Sir Ernest Gowers

The Careful Writer

by Theodore M. Bernstein
“We and the Americans have much in common, but there is always the language barrier.” I suppose the little joke—it is Oscar Wilde’s—still gets its little laugh. Whenever two countries, or two regions or two classes for that matter, share a single language, they will inevitably become hyperbolic if in …