•John Matthias’s Twenty-Three Modern British Poets was published, not by John Martin’s Black Sparrow Press, but by the Swallow Press of Chicago, editor Michael Anania. (What’s with animals and presses? – Penguins, Puffins, Peregrines, Borzois, Wolfhounds, etc.)
•Ruskin’s Modern Painters is not in 7 volumes, but in 5 (with a 6th of indices). Plenty long enough.
Why Young Poets Ought To Read Ruskin, according to Quentin Bell:
Ruskin, early decorated, luxuriant Ruskin, complete with crockets and crenellations is I am convinced, a model which all those of us who are learning to write should study, imitate and learn to love. I say this despite the fact that in doing so I shall find that, amongst teachers of English eyebrows will be raised, lips will probably be pursed and a variety of clucking noises will be clearly audible. ‘What’, you will say: ‘is that gold and purple prose that cloying sweetness of language to be considered wholesome fare for the young? We live in the late Twentieth Century and what style could possibly be less appropriate for us than that of the eighteen forties? The suggestion is absurd, it is as though some girder-bending, concrete-mixing, polyvinylurinated art student were told to copy Bernini.’***
This of course is just what such an art student ought to do (and in saying this I am looking straight at you Jane Doe and at you, Richard Roe, both of you now majoring in creative writing at the University of Labrador). Ruskin can help you, he cannot harm you. The authors who can do you a mischief are those whom you would naturally admire, those whose writings ‘make sense’ within the context of your own age, those who are still new and smart and popular and ‘relevant’. These you copy at your peril for they are saying the kind of things that you want to say, in using their phrases you may be cozened into believing that they are your own, their style is so close to yours that yours may become infected by theirs. Then indeed you may grow into a sedulous ape, a wind bag blown tight with the stale phrases of other people and then indeed you will be damned.
But the modern student who will never celebrate the glorious agonies of St Teresa, who will never be bothered by the question: how best are we to construct sheepfolds? will soon learn to look beyond those Ruskinian exclamations which at first may fill his timid twentieth century soul with confusion and alarm and he will find in the utterances of one who at first sight seems so alien, a science and a strength well worth his study. He will learn what amazing things may be done by the English Language when it is manipulated by strong and skilful hands.
1) “Sex Goddess,” Jon Hassell and Bluescreen, Dressing for Pleasure
2) “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda,” Pogues, Rum, Sodomy and the Lash
3) “Death of a Train,” Daniel Lanois, For the Beauty of Wynona
4) “Act 5, Scene 1,” Chris Cutler & Fred Frith, 2 Gentlemen in Verona
5) “The Tree,” John Zorn & Fred Frith, The Art of Memory
6) “Peppermint Rock,” French Frith Kaiser Thompson, Invisible Means
7) “Poseidon,” Judith Owens & Richard Thompson, RT Box Set
8) “When I’m Up I Can’t Get Down,” Oysterband, Holy Bandits
9) “Hazor,” Masada, Live in Sevilla
10) “Wilson Joliet,” John Cale, Helen of Troy