PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Drew MilneTom Raworth’s Writing ‘present past improved’: Tom Raworth’s Writing
(PN Review 236)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Alejandro Fernandez-OsorioPomace (trans. James Womack)
(PN Review 236)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Oxford University Press
Gratis Ad 1
Next Issue Kei Miller on poetry and volume control Parwana Fayyaz's Afghan poems Gabriel Josipovici bids farewell to Aharon Appelfeld Craig Raine plants a flag A.R. Ammons from two angles

This poem is taken from PN Review 91, Volume 19 Number 5, May - June 1993.

Isabella Notes Bill Manhire
 
Isabel sits in her study
with a book on her knee.
What a good student: she's looking
herself up in the Q.E.D.

Something's on her mind. Quick!
call a lexicographer! Her face
goes gray, then yellow.

She calls for help
Socorro!
and the book falls to the floor

oh, and we look up yellow
only to find the dirty sheets of paper,
the layers of calico

left by the tired Spanish princess.


*

The lexicographer came to my studio.

I was still working at my portrait of the Spanish princess, the one you will know, which is now so famous. I remember the particular afternoon well. It was gray outside and I was pleased with the cheeky little nose, the way I had caused the light to slip across it, making the lady somehow less severe. Ah yes, he said. Though just a little, he said, I'm not even sure if I should say this … just a little … but then I suppose it would be patronising not to say it … just a little more Isabella here!
 
*

Isabel, three syllables,
...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image