Article: Sound Words

I’ve just published a new article, on hymns in twentieth-century literature. It spans D. H. Lawrence, W. H. Auden, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, Louis MacNeice and Dorothy Richardson. And Stevie Smith.

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Dean Inge on ‘bad popular hymns’ in 1951. OBSCURE! FRIGHTENED! SENTIMENTAL!

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Dorothy Richardson in Abingdon

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I happened to see on Twitter that the Abingdon County Hall Museum, just a few miles from Oxford, was holding a week-long exhibition on the life and work of Dorothy Richardson. I’ve got a great dissertation student working on Dorothy Richardson this year, so I decided that this counted as teaching prep. I left my (almost-finished) thesis behind for the mid-week trip to Abingdon.

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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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