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This article is taken from PN Review 236, Volume 43 Number 6, July - August 2017.

Godspeed Tom Raworth Jonty Tiplady
IN THE RELATION SHIP (1966) Tom Raworth makes a vow that might be taken as valid for his work as whole: ‘i made this pact, intelligence / shall not replace intuition’.1 Several truisms about Raworth’s work quickly follow: not only that this is a poetry of speed, celerity, alacrity and vertiginous breeze but, more specifically, that it is a poetry where language goes faster than thought, intelligence shall never come before intuition, and there is always something in language that goes outside language or that isn’t just language or thought at all. Godspeed Tom Raworth, we might say, in every sense of that archaic English phrase! Godspeed him for his beautifully flickering verse, for his mathemes of language, for his collages, and for his blog playlists and for his photos of the Hove docks and seafront! Godspeed this verse into the future, and Godspeed this verse into the reader’s present; this verse that is pre-atomic in its attention to the atoms of words, obliterates thoughts and words in its path, and yet is also worthy of thought, as time goes on, since in exceeding thought it begins to extract and magnify a different truth from language.


understanding
what intuition
writes in language 2


Or even then, godspeed a truth different from language! The light that occurs frequently throughout this poetry is, we might say, just what we have been describing: the light of speed and the speed of light.3 Raworthian speed is itself light, and so highly democratic, to be ...


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