Wednesday, February 22, 2006


In 1938, when he would have been 30 or 31 years old, Louis MacNeice published 'A Personal Essay' entitled 'Modern Poetry'. I wonder will it be reissued for the centenary of his birth next year?

"Neither Spender nor Auden ... is egocentric when compared with epicurean or dilettante poets like Housman and Pound. Epicureanism, being egocentric, lacks tension. Auden's admiration for the objective world is founded on that cosmic pride which, as distinct from personal pride, lies at the base of Christianity. (He holds that Christianity should be taken up into Communism.) Hence his belief, frivolously expressed, that 'Pelmanism' is an important factor both in art and in the good life. The Epicurean, like the Artist for Art's sake, will have no use for pelmanism. Why burden his mind with facts which cannot affect his own life? The Epicurean does not appreciate Otherness as such."

In an uncharacteristically generous moment, on 7 October 2003 to be precise, the lousy Daily Telegraph published these sublime sentences: "Iain Duncan Smith has ... a ‘hinterland’ of interests beyond politics. His hobbies include whistling, lawn-mowing and Pelmanism."

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