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‘Home’: A Poem by John Clare

This wonderful little-known poem from one of English literature’s greatest nature poets isn’t available online anywhere, so we’ve reproduced it below as the latest in our ‘Post A Poem A Day’ challenge. In the poem, John Clare (1793-1864) extols the virtue of home as a place to return to at the end of a hard day, a place of comfort and belonging. The poem’s form deftly reflects this, with the last line of each stanza returning to home – i.e. by ending on the very word ‘home’.

Home

Muses no more what ere ye be
In fancys pleasures roam
But sing (by truth inspir’d) wi’ me
The pleasures of a home Read the rest of this entry

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The Forgotten Bachman Book: Stephen King’s Roadwork

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle reads Richard Bachman’s lesser-known novel, Roadwork

Stephen King isn’t your run-of-the-mill horror writer. Indeed, he resists the generic label – ‘generic’ both because it identifies him with one genre but also because it is blandly general and nondescript – and might be better seen as a ‘writer’ full-stop. Or rather, as a storyteller, for at his best he uses good old-fashioned character-driven storytelling to explore dark themes and ideas. And nowhere do we see this more clearly, perhaps, than in Stephen King’s ‘non-Stephen-King’ novels – that is, his Bachman books.

King published four early novels under the name Richard Bachman, before his fifth outing under the pseudonym, Thinner, led to his cover being blown when a journalist noted the stylistic similarities between ‘Stephen King’ and ‘Richard Bachman’. (One reviewer of Thinner, unaware that Bachman was really Stephen King, remarked that it was ‘what Stephen King would write if Stephen King could write’. Which may be my favourite example of literary irony.) Read the rest of this entry

‘Upon Appleton House’: A Poem by Andrew Marvell

‘Upon Appleton House’ is an example of a ‘country house poem’. Andrew Marvell (1621-78) wrote the poem for Thomas Fairfax, the father of the girl he was tutoring in the early 1650s, just after the end of the English Civil War, and the poem reflects many of the contemporary political issues of the mid-seventeenth century. ‘Appleton House’ is the Nun Appleton estate belonging to Fairfax in Yorkshire.

Upon Appleton House

i
Within this sober Frame expect
Work of no Forrain Architect;
That unto Caves the Quarries drew,
And Forrests did to Pastures hew; Read the rest of this entry