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This report is taken from PN Review 230, Volume 42 Number 6, July - August 2016.

From the Journals
of
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. The notes to Langley’s Complete Poems, edited by Jeremy Noel-Tod, cite a number of unpublished journal entries that directly informed the writing of his verse.


August 1981, Westhall, Bohun aisle

No-one comes. Tractor noises make a continuous background, and a cock crows. Children speak in the hidden garden to the south. Sparrows chirp. By sitting still and unfocusing the eyes the whole space somehow speaks out, rises, tautens, opens, accepts the third dimension, stops being a record in bits of things you know, and facts of definition or memory. The ranks of poppy heads move out into stiffness and root there; the two roofs link and spread over, the walls draw up and round. Corners meet. Each poppy head has a double ghost on the south wall, the two images overlapping in a darker central clot. No edges – a perfect blur. The row of eight along the white wall, absolutely still and soundless. Because I touched a hung lamp, to straighten its chimney, I suddenly realise how long their chains up to the roof are – how impossible to stop it moving, though I try. A quarter of an hour later, watching rigidly, I see it is still twisting and just moving, where one of its angled chains crosses the edge of a window embrasure, so the vertical division, from darker inner wall to brighter side of the window recess, is a vertical, close ...


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