September 2011


 

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

 
Joyce Kilmer, Trees

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Yes Minister meets Alan Clark. This third and final volume of Chris Mullin’s acclaimed diaries begins on the night John Smith died in May 1994, and continues until the moment of Mullin’s assumption into government in July 1999.

Together with the bestselling “A View from the Foothills” and “Decline and Fall”, the complete trilogy covers the rise and fall of New Labour from start to finish.

Witty, elegant and wickedly indiscreet, the Mullin diaries are widely reckoned to be the best account of the New Labour era. ‘Every once in a while,’ wrote David Cameron, ‘political diaries emerge that are so irreverent and insightful that they are destined to be handed out as leaving presents across Whitehall for years to come.’

 

Henry Moore’s rise from Yorkshire miner’s son to international acclaim as the twentieth century’s greatest sculptor is one of the most remarkable stories in British art. In this revised, updated, expanded and redesigned new edition of The Life of Henry Moore, Roger Berthoud charts Moore’s transition from controversial young modernist to pillar of the art-world establishment, garlanded with domestic and foreign honours. His account is enriched by the weekly interviews he did with Moore — and his wife Irina — before the sculptor’s death in 1986, aged eighty-eight.

At home and abroad Moore’s sculptures aroused strong passions and were often the object of abuse, sharp criticism and even physical assault, as well as of admiration. He was attacked by younger artists, among others, who saw his growing fame as an obstacle to their advancement. He was to survive the ebb and flow in his reputation, and emerge with the status of a contemporary old master. 

From a mass of material, including recently discovered early letters, and interviews with Moore’s friends, his former assistants and students, dealers, collectors, museum officials and leading architects with whom he worked, Roger Berthoud has built up a lively and engaging though not uncritical picture of Moore’s long life and career in this definitive biography.

 

From the tawny light
from the rainy nights
from the imagination finding
itself and more than itself
alone and more than alone
at the bottom of the well where the moon lives,
can you pull me

into December?
The black moon turns away, its work done.
A tenderness, unspoken autumn.
We are faithful only to the imagination.
What the imagination seizes as beauty must be truth.
What holds you to what you see of me is
that grasp alone.

 

Denise Levertov

 

 

Joy, my love, joy in all things,
in what falls and what flourishes.

Joy in today and yesterday,
the day before and tomorrow.

Joy in bread and stone,
joy in fire and rain.

In what changes, is born, grows,
consumes itself, and becomes a kiss again.

Joy in the air we have,
and in what we have of earth.

Joy in the night and the day,
and the four stations of the soul.

 

Pablo Neruda

On the west coast of Wales within the beautiful Snowdonia National Park, Barmouth Bay sits between a spectacular mountain range and the sea, close to the town of Barmouth, the bar at the mouth of the river Mawddach.

 

Gregynog has existed for eight hundred years. By the sixteenth century it was the home of the Blayney family, local gentry who claimed descent from the early Welsh princes and whose courage and benevolence were praised by the court poets. Their coat of arms is the centrepiece of the fine oak carvings in what we now call the Blayney Room.

For hundreds of years Gregynog was one of Montgomeryshire’s leading landed estates, at the heart of the community and the local economy. The Blayney squires gave way to the Lords Sudeley, then Lord Joicey. But in 1913 a huge estate sale saw Gregynog’s farms, cottages and woodlands sold off, many to their tenants.

Gregynog Hall might have been demolished had not the wealthy Davies sisters acquired it in 1920 to become the headquarters of their enterprise to bring art, music and creative skills to the people of Wales in the aftermath of the First World War. For twenty years the house was full of music, fine furniture and ceramics, hand-printed books from the Gregynog Press and, most extraordinary of all, the sisters’ collection of paintings by artists such as Monet, Cezanne and Van Gogh. Personalities such as George Bernard Shaw and Gustav Holst visited during these years for concerts and conferences –or simply to enjoy the beautiful gardens and woodland walks.

At the end of the nineteen-fifties, after wartime use as a Red Cross convalescent home, Gregynog was bequeathed to the University of Wales as a conference centre.

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