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“Buried above ground”: Notes on a Poem by William Cowper

October 19, 2011

Portrait of William Cowper (1731-1800), by Lemuel Francis Abbott (c. 1760 – 1802). Date: 1792. Oil on canvas. Now in the National Portrait Gallery.

Cowper’s Tirocinium (1784) proves that he formed a low opinion of English public schools.† The severity of his judgment upon institutions where religious instruction was scanty and temptations to vice abounded is explicable without supposing that he was himself unhappy.
Dictionary of National Biography‡

*   *   *

William Cowper (1731-1800) (pronounced “Cooper”), born at Berkhampstead, was the son of the clergymen John Cowper and Anne Donne. Anne died early, while giving birth to Cowper’s brother John, whereupon William was sent to a school administered by one Dr. Pitman at Market Street, Hertfordshire. There, by his own (at times excruciating) report, in a posthumously published Memoir, Cowper suffered at the hands of a regular terror of a bully, who was, fortunately, later expelled. The poet-to-be suffered troubles with his eyes, relief from which he attributed not to treatment by the oculist he sought but instead to an attack of small-pox. At the age of ten, he entered Westminster School, a “public school,” as the English style them, and, enjoying the company of several of his mates, he became adept, as he later put it, “in the infernal art of lying”—which is to say, misleading his schoolmasters with excuses for work undone. He was handy with a cricket bat, good on the pitch, and had a knack for writing verse in Latin. At the age of eighteen Cowper left to read for the law with a solicitor called Chapman, but took, it would seem, a livelier interest in his own uncle’s daughters, with whom (again by his own report) he passed a good many hours “giggling and making giggle” with his friend Edward Thurlow (1731-1806), later Lord Chancellor of Great Britain under no fewer than four Prime Ministers. Cowper, notwithstanding his casual engagement with the law, was called to the bar on June 14, 1754. Here, as the Dictionary of National Biography has it, Cowper “was seized with an ominous depression of spirits during the early part of his residence in chambers. He found some consolation in reading George Herbert‘s poems, but laid them aside on the advice of a relation, who thought that they stimulated his morbid feelings,” which had already become quite apparent. “After a year’s misery,” continues the DNB, “he sought relief in religious exercises. He was advised to make a visit of some months to Southampton, where he made yachting excursions with Sir Thomas Hesketh. One day he felt a sudden relief. Hereupon he burnt the prayers which he had composed, and long afterwards reproached himself with having misinterpreted a providential acceptance of his petitions into a mere effect of the change of air and scene.” Here arose the “morbid” pattern of penitence and scathing self-reproach that would sound the awful leitmotif in Cowper’s long life. One notices, in this episode, Cowper’s tendency to assume that Providence took a peculiar interest in him—a matter less unusual in character (many Christians think this way) than in intensity: it was as if God were singling him out for special notice.

There followed the death of his father; the usual, thwarted love-affair; the diddling in law, while preferring a life of letters; the fading fortunes and uncertain patronage; and then the first of his great crises, in 1763. I find the account given in the DNB of the latter episode quite charming in style and give it whole here:

His cousin, Major Cowper, claimed the right of appointment to the joint offices of reading clerk and clerk of the committees, and to the less valuable office of clerk of the journals of the House of Lords. Both appointments became vacant in 1763, the latter by the death of the incumbent, which Cowper reproached himself for having desired.

With alarming grandiosity, mingled with conviction of his own depravity, Cowper, as he states in his own Memoir, convinced himself that his desire for the office had by some means brought about, or at any rate hastened, the incumbent’s death. The DNB continues:

Major Cowper offered the most valuable to Cowper, intending the other for a Mr. Arnold. Cowper accepted, but was so overcome by subsequent reflections upon his own incapacity that he persuaded his cousin to give the more valuable place to Arnold and the less valuable to himself. Meanwhile the right of appointment was disputed. Cowper was told that the ground would have to be fought by inches and that he would have to stand an examination into his own fitness at the bar of the House of Lords. He made some attempts to secure the necessary experience of his duties by attending the office; but the anxiety threw him into a nervous fever. A visit to Margate in the summer did something for his spirits. On returning to town in October he resumed attendance at the office. The anticipated examination unnerved him. An accidental talk

—and here, be it noted, our DNB biographer relies, again, on Cowper’s own account in his Memoir—

directed his thoughts to suicide. He bought a bottle of laudanum; but after several attempts to drink it, frustrated by accident or sudden revulsion of feeling, he threw it out of the window. He went to the river to drown himself, and turned back at sight of a porter waiting on the bank. The day before that fixed for his examination he made a determined attempt to hang himself with a garter. On a third attempt the garter broke just in time to save his life. He now sent for Major Cowper, who saw at once that all thoughts of the appointment must be abandoned. Cowper remained in his chambers, where the symptoms of a violent attack of madness rapidly developed themselves. Cowper’s delusions took a religious colouring. He was convinced that he was damned. He consulted Martin Madan, his cousin. Madan gave him spiritual advice. His brother came to see him, and was present during a crisis, in which he felt as though a violent blow had struck his brain ‘without touching the skull.’ The brother consulted the family, and Cowper was taken in December 1763 to a private madhouse, kept by Dr. Nathaniel Cotton at St. Albans. A copy of sapphics written in the interval gives a terrible description of his state of mind.

“Cowper’s religious terrors,” the DNB concludes, “were obviously the effect and not the cause of the madness, of which his earlier attack had been symptomatic.” In any case, the poem in question, indeed in Sapphics, engages me here:

Hatred and vengeance, my eternal portion,
Scarce can endure delay of execution:—
Wait, with impatient readiness, to seize my
Soul in a moment.

Damn’d below Judas: more abhorr’d than he was,
Who, for a few pence, sold his holy master.
Twice betray’d, Jesus me, the last delinquent,
Deems the profanest.

Man disavows, and Deity disowns me.
Hell might afford my miseries a shelter;
Therefore hell keeps her everhungry mouths all
Bolted against me.

Hard lot! Encompass’d with a thousand dangers,
Weary, faint, trembling with a thousand terrors,
Fall’n, and if vanquish’d, to receive a sentence
Worse than Abiram’s:

Him, the vindictive rod of angry justice
Sent, quick and howling, to the centre headlong;
I, fed with judgment, in a fleshly tomb, am
Buried above ground.

That first stanza is Old Testament stuff, or worse. I’m not sure it doesn’t court some kind of blasphemy.

Hatred and vengeance, my eternal portion,
Scarce can endure delay of execution:—
Wait, with impatient readiness, to seize my
Soul in a moment.

The sheer activity and energy here assigned to God’s judgment—and what can only be called its delighted malice—almost beggar belief. The poem has yet to specify God as the agent of retribution, of course. And the matter, through the fifth line, hardly seems one of retribution: “hatred and vengeance,” abstracted, as they here are, from the Divine Personage they simply must animate, assume an almost purposeless malignity—purposeless in this sense: they seem to lie in wait not because Cowper deserves his lot, but simply because he is so eminently persecutable (as by that bully at the school he first attended). I suppose this idea may sort well with the bleaker style of Calvinism. Still, the hint that God can hardly “endure” delay in punishing Cowper suggests not simply that He can punish him, nor that Cowper has it coming, but that we have to do, here, with a Divinity almost predatory in its operations. It waits, with impatient readiness, to seize his soul. It’s as if the stanza all but mingles up God and Satan. The sadism implied is what leads me to speak of blasphemy. God smites us, true. But must he be so apt for the ravaging (as Herman Melville might phrase it)? I think not. The unsettling weirdness of the lines suggest an inability, on Cowper’s part, to decide whether he is properly damned, de jure, so to speak, or whether he is persecuted simply for the hell of it (as the mad often suppose, in fits of paranoia). And doesn’t a sense of grandiosity underlie stanza two?

Damn’d below Judas: more abhorr’d than he was,
Who, for a few pence, sold his holy master.
Twice betray’d, Jesus me, the last delinquent,
Deems the profanest.

Judas, stealing away from the Last Supper. Painting by Carl Bloch.

Really? More delinquent than Judas Iscariot? Had Cowper sold Christ out merely for sport, as against a few pence? Avarice is a fair motive for betrayal. Here we have something far worse. Cowper is singular, highly distinguished among sinners; he is the very capital and seat of evil—the man to whom Judas himself must play second fiddle. I can’t resist the idea that there’s something vain in all this: the inversion of supposing oneself chief among the elect (let’s say). “It is immodest of a man,” as Robert Frost puts it, “to think of himself as going down before the worst forces ever mobilized by God.” It would take but little to persuade me that, in this poem, Cowper strives to win a fate he supposes already his; it is as much an invitation to damnation as an acknowledgement of it. The poem, in its utterance, would further what it already takes for granted. It is a heaven-daring instrument. It leaves nothing undecided as to that. I mean, for Christ’s sake, Hell itself is too good—or not good enough (it amounts to the same thing)—for Cowper!

Man disavows, and Deity disowns me.
Hell might afford my miseries a shelter;
Therefore hell keeps her everhungry mouths all
Bolted against me.

Jesus says, in Matthew 25:41, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Always already disowned and disavowed, on earth as in Heaven, Cowper imagines Hell as “ever-hungry,” as richly appetitious; its maw can never be satisfied. But Cowper? He’s indigestible even there. Satan—not a finicky sort of fellow, when it comes to immortal souls—sends back his supper. The extravagance dazzles me. Simply because Hell might afford Cowper some measure of succor it chooses not to. What spite! There’s real distinction in that—to be snubbed, and gratuitously, by Hell. Cowper stands alone among sinners, elect in his delinquency. Only a kind of nihilism (blasphemy again) will do for him: not Hell, certainly not Heaven, nor even the Purgatory of Catholicism (one must suppose)—no, all are negated as possible refuges. Hard lot indeed:

. . . . Encompass’d with a thousand dangers,
Weary, faint, trembling with a thousand terrors,
Fall’n, and if vanquish’d, to receive a sentence
Worse than Abiram’s:

Him, the vindictive rod of angry justice
Sent, quick and howling, to the centre headlong;
I, fed with judgment, in a fleshly tomb, am
Buried above ground.

Cowper is endangered a thousand times over, and just as terrified. But to be so situated is more to suffer than to sin, is it not? (Temptations are apparently not in question.)  Then Cowper takes up a subsidiarily martial metaphor (which will find its extension in the tale of Abiram): he may fall, he may be vanquished, etc. But wait: “if vanquish’d,” he says. Can there be any doubt as to the issue? I guess there can be, insofar as he does battle with those thousand “terrors” and “dangers.” Should they overcome him, well, then defeated he is. But “defeat” and “damnation” are, in most contexts, distinct ideas; the poem conflates them, unstably, to my mind. What’s more, the conditional (“if vanquish’d”) intimates a will to fight, as against acquiescence through submission to his “lot.” Every Christian fights “temptation,” and hopes to “vanquish” it. But these thousand-fold “terrors,” and the thousand-fold “dangers” that give rise to them, strike me as rather more specific to insanity than to “spiritual” endeavor. Which only bears out what our DNB biographer suggests: “Cowper’s religious terrors were obviously the effect and not the cause of the madness, of which his earlier attack had been symptomatic.” Isn’t it possible that Cowper remained always somehow aware of this in some sense—here’s the purchase he still had on sanity—and worried lest the “religious colouring” he gave his struggle with insanity elevated, or dignified, the latter “inappropriately,” which of course would only have compounded his guilt, as if by some species of grandiose prevarication? Whatever the case, he could hardly detach the form his insanity took from his religious life. “The Everlasting had,” after all, “fixed / His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter,” and no fewer than three times Cowper attempted suicide with that garter of his (setting aside his abortive flirtation with laudanum).

But how came it all about in the first place? I cannot avoid the conclusion—given that we have to do with a “lot” and not a “plight” (say)—that he takes this nightmare for his destiny, or rather his “portion.” Which latter word, from line one, is nearly synonymous with “lot,” as in Oxford English Dictionary sense 2.a.: “That which is assigned by lot to a person as his share or portion in an inheritance, or in a distribution of property.” The poem cannot decide, will not say, resists determining, the identity of the agency that dealt him this portion of “hatred and vengeance,” this “hard lot” (the drawing of lots being a matter over which, in any case, one presumably has no control). Was it Fortune? The idea is too pagan, no matter how consonant with the drawing of “lots” it may be (Each markt his lot, and cast it in, to Agamemnons caske). Providence? If so, that allows in a creeping element of resentment, which piety (I feel) should forbid (especially in Calvinism, a doctrine originally contributory to Anglicanism, though not foundational to it).

Detail, from Cowper's "Memoir." Click on the image to enlarge it.

I’m certainly not making short work of my task, but I mean to highlight how odd this poem is. I cannot help but hear a note of complaint about his “hard lot.” Why should he be compassed round with dangers and terrors, after all? Cowper recalls a moment of “blasphemy” (his designation) in his Memoirs: “Such a fit of passion has seized me, when alone in my chambers, that I have cried out aloud, and cursed the hour of my birth; lifting up my eyes to heaven, at the same time, not as a suppliant, but in the hellish spirit of rancorous reproach, and blasphemy against my Maker. A thought would sometimes come across my mind, that my sins had perhaps brought this distress upon me, that the hand of divine vengeance was in it; but, in the pride of my heart, I presently acquitted myself, and thereby implicitly charged God with injustice, saying, ‘What sins have I committed to deserve this?'” Yes: a hard lot. Such is the hand he’d been dealt—the hand God had dealt him.

"The Death of Korah, Dathan and Abiram." 1865. Gustave Doré.

So, I find a certain ambiguity of address in the poem. It is at once abjectly penitent (I am the vilest of sinners) and also a bitter plea (Why must I have it so hard?). It combines both self-hatred (I deserve worse than did Judas) and the oddest sense of exceptionalism, perhaps even “pride of heart” (Never in all the world’s ages has anyone been so vexed as have I! My name should be numbered, nay, celebrated, with Judas’s and Abiram’s!). In other words, the poem retains all the instability and ambiguity of the scene reported in the Memoir. Self-reproach? Sure. But there’s grievance in it, too: God (for who else could it be?) “hates” him, as in that first line; wreaks “vengeance” upon him; sets a thousand “terrors” and “dangers” round about him. Manfully he has fought, only to be (this is all forgone) “vanquished.” Isn’t there lurking about this poem the idea that God has made war on Cowper, singled him out (and likely for worse reason than He so singled out Job)?

As for the last stanza:

. . . and if vanquish’d, to receive a sentence
Worse than Abiram’s:

Him, the vindictive rod of angry justice
Sent, quick and howling, to the centre headlong;
I, fed with judgment, in a fleshly tomb, am
Buried above ground.

In the penultimate line, Cowper fetches in a real antiquity—”fed” in its office as adjective, as given here in the Oxford English Dictionary: “At variance, hostile,” as here, in a phrase from the Cursor Mundi (a Northumbrian poem of the 14th century): Cartage to rome was euer fede.” Or, just as likely, Cowper has the noun sense in mind, as who should say “I, a fed to God’s judgment…”: “An enemy; spec. the fiend, devil.” Again, the Cursor Mundi: “‘Þat man,’ he said, ‘es godds fed.’” Abiram and his co-conspirators Dathan and Korah (see below) may have challenged Moses. But at least their punishment was instant: “the ground clave asunder that was under them: And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.” But in the long succession of those who have most offended God (Abiram, Judas, et al), of those most “fed” with Him, Cowper stands alone. And “fed” not so much with God, which would be one thing; but “fed,” significantly, with his judgment, a matter that comes after the fact, and which does seem to warrant a most vile damnation for those who stand “fed” to it. Don’t we have His word in Psalms 19:9? “The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.” Here I locate the worst of Cowper’s transgressions, and his most extravagant poetic license (poetic licentiousness, let’s say): he claims to have defied not God’s will merely, but his judgment also. Which would indeed be unclean. No wonder his fate is the very reverse of Abiram’s. The latter the Earth swallowed up. Cowper walks “buried above ground.”

One matter remains: the poem’s form, Sapphics: stanzas of three hendecasyllabic (or 11 syllable) lines, followed by one of five syllables. The form originated with Sappho, of course, and in Greek was quantitative (a measure not possible in English, where stress takes the place of duration in the scheme). Catullus used it (Latin prosody also being quantitative), as did Horace. A number of poets have Englished the form over the years (Isaac Watts, Swinburne, Pound, even Allen Ginsberg). (Robert Frost wrote no Sapphics, but Catullus’s hendecasyllabic he did adapt, with great skill, in “For Once, Then, Something.”) But let me cast my lot here with Cowper’s “Hatred and vengeance, my eternal portion . . .” as among the very best of the English Sapphics, if only because it sets a theme so appalling within such finely drawn bounds, so to speak (sapphics are very hard to write well). His remarkable administration of the stanza, if I may put it that way, suggests that even in extremis his faculties kept their bearings. Consider the last stanza again, where the initial pronoun refers to Abiram:

Him, the vindictive rod of angry justice
Sent, quick and howling, to the centre headlong;
I, fed with judgment, in a fleshly tomb, am
Buried above ground.

The abstract pattern of the Sapphic runs like this, where hyphens stand for long syllables, “u’s” for short ones, and “x’s” for “anceps” (which may be either long or short):

– u – x – u u – u – –
– u – x – u u – u – –
– u – x – u u – u – –
– u u – u

If we English the stanza, hyphens indicate a stressed syllable, “u” an unstressed syllable, and “x” the variable. Here’s how Cowper, for his part, turns the trick (this time I highlight stressed syllables in bold red type, and use → to indicate strong enjambments):

Him, the vindictive rod of angry justice →
Sent, quick and howling, to the centre head-long;
I, fed with judgment, in a fleshly tomb, am
Buried above ground.

The six “long” syllables of the Greek/Latin line become the five stresses of the first three hendecasyllabic lines (with a possible sixth stress at the terminus of line three, at least as I hear it, and with a spondee closing out line two); whereas, to my ear, “ground” (in the truncated line) may be read, if not without stress, at least with less stress than the second syllable of “above,” in keeping with the idea that Cowper is not, with Abiram, below, but here among us: above ground, walking dead. The old trope of the flesh as the “tomb” (or, more often, “prison”) of the soul is here given an infernal twist. So damned is Cowper as to have been rendered all but soul-less, as if body and soul are identified, fused, wedded, never to be parted, even in death—for, in fact, death has already enveloped him. How he could hold such debilitating beliefs, as most certainly he did, and yet write such finely variable English Sapphics as these—availing himself so well of the liberty they afford from the iambic pentameter line toward which they often tend in English—astonishes me.

† Incidentally, Jane Austen laid a passage from Cowper’s Tirocinium into Mansfield Park. It well illustrates the point here made by the article in the DNB:

The indented stick, that loses day by day,
Notch after notch, till all are smoothed away,
Bears witness, long ere his dismission come,
With what intense desire he wants his home.

‡A friend reminds me that I ought to identify the author of the DNB article on Cowper: Leslie Stephen (1832-1904), father of Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, author of The Science of Ethics, and general editor of the DNB. It’s worth pointing out that Cowper’s better known poetic treatment of his madness, “The Castaway,” figures into part three of Woolf’s To The Lighthouse. Incidentally, William Empson, in an essay on that poem, indicates that he first met with it there. The essay is collected in Argufying.

N.B.: Following is the tale of Abiram, as given in Numbers 16: 1-32: “Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men: And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown: And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD? And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face: And he spake unto Korah and unto all his company, saying, Even to-morrow the LORD will shew who are his, and who is holy; and will cause him to come near unto him: even him whom he hath chosen will he cause to come near unto him. This do; Take you censers, Korah, and all his company; And put fire therein, and put incense in them before the LORD to-morrow: and it shall be that the man whom the LORD doth choose, he shall be holy: ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi. And Moses said unto Korah, Hear, I pray you, ye sons of Levi: Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them? And he hath brought thee near to him, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee: and seek ye the priesthood also? For which cause both thou and all thy company are gathered together against the LORD: and what is Aaron, that ye murmur against him? And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab: which said, We will not come up: Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us? Moreover thou hast not brought us into a land that floweth with milk and honey, or given us inheritance of fields and vineyards: wilt thou put out the eyes of these men? we will not come up. And Moses was very wroth, and said unto the LORD, Respect not thou their offering: I have not taken one ass from them, neither have I hurt one of them. And Moses said unto Korah, Be thou and all thy company before the LORD, thou, and they, and Aaron, to-morrow: And take every man his censer, and put incense in them, and bring ye before the LORD every man his censer, two hundred and fifty censers; thou also, and Aaron, each of you his censer. And they took every man his censer, and put fire in them, and laid incense thereon, and stood in the door of the tabernacle of the congregation with Moses and Aaron. And Korah gathered all the congregation against them unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the congregation. And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment. And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation? And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the congregation, saying, Get you up from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. And Moses rose up and went unto Dathan and Abiram; and the elders of Israel followed him. And he spake unto the congregation, saying, Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in all their sins. So they gat up from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side: and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood in the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little children. And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind. If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD hath not sent me. But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD. And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them: And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.”

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Henry permalink
    October 20, 2011 9:25 AM

    I like this, on the voluptuousness of pure evil as reflex of a deranged inner Calvinism. I’m not sure why you say the latter precludes resentment. Nearly every fictional Calvinist I can think of, from Scott to Dickens to Hardy to Butler, is positively eaten up with envy. It doesn’t seem to stop them being pious. Have you read James Hogg? ‘Confessions of a Justified Sinner’ is very close to what you’re getting at here.

    Henry

    • October 20, 2011 9:58 PM

      James Hogg is a citizen of that populous nation of persons I’ve not read. I’ll get round to him, though. As to Calvinist resentment, I suppose I’d say this: your sincere Calvinist (these must be few in number) cannot, or so I suppose, bemoan his reprobation. He must own his innate depravity & make peace with it. Holding God accountable is a no-no. Cowper strikes me as coming close to the latter in certain of his moods; or rather, the form his madness takes leads him into these moods, wherein attitudes associated with the madness begin to color his religious attitudes.

      Come to think of it, Henry, I am probably influenced in what I say in this entry by Empson’s reading of The Castaway. Perhaps unduly influenced.

  2. brianlynch731 permalink
    July 1, 2013 8:37 AM

    Dear Mark Richardson, Thanks for piece on Cowper’s ‘Hatred and Vengeance’ – it’s so well written. You might be interested in ‘The Winner of Sorrow’, my novel about him, published in the US by the Dalkey Archive Press. Best wishes, Brian Lynch http://www.brianlynch.org

    • July 1, 2013 8:52 AM

      Well, my thanks to you, Brian. Anything the Dalkey Archive Press issues is bound to be of interest: I shall follow this up.

      I’ve not had time to tend to this web-log in many a month: too absorbed in getting volume one of “The Letters of Robert Frost” ready for the press, together my co-editor w/ Don Sheehy. Look for that book in January 2014.

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