Sunday, December 04, 2011

Christopher Logue departs for the shades

Sad to see that Christopher Logue has died at the age of 85, a poet and playwright whose visceral and blithely free translation of Homer, "War Music", had a profound influence on my own poetry.

In the Fifties, Logue also wrote a pornographic novel called "Lust" for the infamous Olympia Press in Paris, under the ironic pen-name Count Palmiro Vicarion. That alone would have made him a friend, but his "War Music" is such a towering achievement, I cannot imagine any poet of feeling being able to read it and not wish they had written the thing.

Christopher Logue won the Whitbread in 2005 for "Cold Calls", a continuation of his Homeric work. But it's "War Music" for which I will remember him. And the fact that, apart from that belated award towards the end of his life, his talent as a poet was almost never recognised by that shadowy institution, the Establishment. Thus the life of a maverick ends.

Picture the east Aegean sea by night,
And on a beach aslant its shimmering
Upwards of 50,000 men
Asleep like spoons beside their lethal Fleet ...

Buy "War Music" from Amazon UK.


Phil Simmons said...

Logue was great - an original, innovator, and perpetually underrated. I love his "New Numbers", on which he kept improvising for years (tho' I cherish my 1971, fluorescent orange, edition.) His autobiography is a fascinating, funny and insightful read too. And of course there was his 'True Stories' column in "Private Eye", which caused me many times to choke on my beer with laughter.Thanks for recognising him, Jane !

Jane Holland said...

And thanks for highlighting things I missed/didn't know about Logue. I shall certainly look out for that autobiography. Jx