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This report is taken from PN Review 198, Volume 37 Number 4, February - March 2011.

Almost Nothing But Sudden Impulses Frank Kuppner
A little submerged in the latest mild bout of a somewhat flattening ailment, I am taking the opportunity of listening to music which I feel I have been neglecting for a shamefully long time - until a fine piece catches my particular attention. What? William Byrd. Browning a 5. A moderately peculiar name, perhaps - but at least it does serve to remind me that G.K. Chesterton's study of Robert Browning is surely still somewhere in that cupboard beyond the bed? It should fit the present subdued mood. Isn't it about time I tried to reread it?

And I duly dig it out soon enough. But now here's another volume just below it - a cheap, officially discarded library book which I have no recollection whatsoever of buying. Did I really once hand over honest coinage for this? Presumably it was acquired on a moment's impulse and then forgotten about as soon as landed. It's called Mrs Browning, and it's a brief biography of another poet. I grasp the connection at once. (I must at last be on the mend!) Yes. I decide to investigate this unexpected newcomer instead.

From it I soon learn, for instance, that Shelley took lodgings in Poland Street, in order to show solidarity with the contemporary plight of the Poles. Well, it's always a start, I suppose. Furthermore, Shelley had, it seems, a son called Wilmouse who died very young. This is news to me. Can it be true? Besides which, isn't ...


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