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This report is taken from PN Review 266, Volume 48 Number 6, July - August 2022.

From Angel Hill: Part 2
Sounding a Way: Charles Causley's 'Angel Hill'
Vahni Capildeo
Although the sea was not close by (in Cornish terms), in Launceston, the fortified border town on the river Tamar, staying in Cyprus Well, the late poet Charles Causley’s cottage, I felt as if the sea must be close by. Turning sharp left out beneath the thirteenth-century Southgate Arch, and looking longingly but not too lingeringly at the film posters and cakes of the nearby cafés, you cross over Dockacre Road and begin a steep descent. Angel Hill, Ridgegrove Hill: the slope reminds me of the narrow ways cut into Trinidad’s Northern Range, which I know mostly by car, seeing other cars squeeze past on hairpin bends, and the Atlantic gleam greatly in occasional rifts in the sharply shelving, forested red rock. The sense of peril and acceleration was the same; of humans perched twiggily on geological movements; of four-dimensional maps that squeezed like accordions to play bittersweet histories.

Within Cyprus Well, the cottage, there are different ways of sounding the space. You could orientate yourself by the inexplicable rustle in early evening from Charles Causley’s room, as if someone were shuffling papers or moving about at the window. Upstairs, you could sink into birdsong, in spring. Going downstairs, you could wake up the grandfather clock as you brushed past it, at the foot of the modest central staircase. The insides would tick-knock, as if asking to be set going. So, you wind the clock, and add chimes to the bells that already ring from churches on all sides. As if underwater, you are in a sounding-space. ...


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