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This report is taken from PN Review 114, Volume 23 Number 4, March - April 1997.

Bosnian Fall Lawrence Sail

If there were a prize for the world's most tactlessly titled airport facility it ought surely to go to the transit lounge at Frankfurt, where passengers have the possibility of refreshing themselves at a bar called the Ikarus: perhaps good business is insured by undermining travellers' confidence while simultaneously providing a way of bolstering it.

I passed by the Ikarus while changing planes on my way to Bosnia last October, to read in Sarajevo, Tuzla and Banja Luka, at the inception of a literature programmel initiated by the British Council's Director in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Susan Barnes. In my luggage I had Noel Malcolm's Bosnia: A Short History2, a number of copies of the latest issues of Poetry Review, PN Review and Stand most readily provided by Peter Forbes, Michael Schmidt and Jon Silkin and, kindly given by Neil Astley, copies of the Bloodaxe anthology Klaonica: Poems for Bosnia3Amongst the contributions to the book I encountered Icarus again, in James Sutherland-Smith's poem 'Musée des Beaux Arts Revisited', with its close stalking of Auden's poem, a procedure made memorable by the awareness that nowadays 'All the colours run/In the suave stink of what our charity becomes for us' and for the thinking wishfulness of the poem's ending:

And beside the point to tell Old
  Masters what to do.
Yet that first Brueghel, for instance, if
  only the ship were a fable
Of the delicate informed heart

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