Singing Smith: Five Musical Poems

Well, it’s always fun doing this, fitting other words to an old tune. (Stevie Smith, ‘A Turn Outside’

Stevie Smith sang a lot of her poems in performance. Often, her subtitles include instructions about the tunes which they should be sung to.

'Miss Pauncefort sang at the top of her voice...' The Songster
‘Miss Pauncefort sang at the top of her voice…’

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Persons from Porlock: Smith, MacNeice, Thomas

It was not right of Coleridge in fact it was wrong
(But often we all do wrong)
As the truth is I think he was already stuck
With Kubla Khan.

He was weeping and wailing: I am finished, finished,
I shall never write another word of it,
When along comes the Person from Porlock
And takes the blame for it.

Illustration to Stevie Smith's 'Thoughts About the Person from Porlock'
Illustration of Stevie Smith’s ‘Thoughts About the Person from Porlock’ (1962)

Coleridge’s Person from Porlock had a good few outings in the mid-twentieth-century.

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Review essay: Allowing a Lapse

The Cambridge Quarterly has just published my review essay on Elisha Cohn’s very thought-provoking book Still Life: Suspended Development in the Victorian Novel (Oxford, 2016). You can read my review here.

The book is also brilliantly discussed in one of the v21 Collective’s ‘Collations’, linked to here. And you can read the thoughts of Raphael Lyne, editor of CQ, about the book over here on his blog.