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This report is taken from PN Review 228, Volume 42 Number 4, March - April 2016.

From the Journals R.F. Langley

The poet R. F. Langley (1938–2011) was also, privately, a prolific prose writer. Extracts from his journals, which he began in 1969, first appeared in PN Review in 2002, and a selected volume, Journals, was published by Shearsman in 2006. The notes to Carcanet’s recent edition of Langley’s Complete Poems, edited by Jeremy Noel-Tod, cite a number of unpublished journal entries that directly informed the writing of his verse. The following extract, which has been transcribed by Noel-Tod and is published with the permission of the Langley Estate, refers to the poem ‘Still Life with Wineglass’.

6–8th March 2001

[On Mercury and Herse (c.1625) by Cornelis van Poelenburch, seen in the Royal Academy exhibition, The Genius of Rome 1592–1623.]

But here this is. A foot across, on wood though not copper, Mercury and Herse. Here he comes, way back and up high in the summer air, in a faint rosy haze, sunshine on parts of him, superman sprinting through the sky thrusting his caduceus ahead with his right arm. Below, the procession to the shrine of Minerva, which is in dead centre, a square tomb-like structure, half in gentle shadow, a front panel let into its front face with a bevelled edge catching a shine of light gleamingly. Front left, a priest, in white, with red-crossed braces, seated back to us, with something across his knees – a plank with a box on it – can’t see – a dark cow or bull, rump to us, on his left, one of the three daughters, dark ...


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