The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English

By Ian Hamilton | Go to book overview

RAFAT, Taufiq ( 1927- ), was born in Sialkot and educated in Lahore. His first collection, Arrival of the Monsoon ( Lahore), appeared only in 1985. He has also translated two Punjabi folk poets, Bulleh Shah ( 1680- 1758) and Qadir Yar ( 1802-50).

Rafat is not prolific--Arrival of the Monsoon has 116 poems written over thirty years ( 1947-78)--but he has an easy, entertaining way of describing local customs, rituals, and seasonal festivities. Dull or exotic (according to the reader's point of view), the work invites anthropological interest: see 'Eve of Eid-ul-Azha', 'The Kite-flyers', 'Sacrifice', and 'Arrival of the Monsoon'. In these the craftsmanship is deft and the line is generally uncluttered and colloquial. Rafat writes mainly in the narrative-descriptive mode, but sometimes lapses into abstract moralizing. The social facts in 'Sialkot Bombed', 'Kitchens', 'Circumcision', and 'Divorce' are familiar, and the anti-Western sneers are comfortably populist: 'Their divorce is final | but they still meet by appointment | and are helpful and friendly to each other. | They call it civilized behaviour.' [ SbinH

RAGO, Henry. See POETRY.

RAINE, Craig ( 1944- ), was born at Shildon, Co. Durham. His father, Norman Edward Raine, appears in the prose centre-piece of the 1984 collection Rich as a one-time boxer who once beat Olympic featherweight champion Otto Köstner, and latterly as a jack-of-all-trades, raconteur, spiritualist and faith-healer. His mother, Olive Marie Raine, is portrayed as an intense, Lawrentian woman; poems in A Martian Sends a Postcard Home describe her dressmaking or at Roman Catholic mass.

Raine attended Barnard Castle School and Exeter College, Oxford. Subsequently he obtained a B.Phil. at Oxford ( 1968) and read for a D.Phil. on Coleridge (abandoned in 1973). From 1971 to 1981 Raine combined periods of teaching at Oxford colleges with work on the * New Review, Quarto, and the New Statesman. Critical work dating from that time is collected with essays of the 1980s in Haydn and the Valve Trumpet ( 1990). From 1981 to 1991 Raine was poetry editor at Faber & Faber and is now a fellow of New College, Oxford. In 1972 he married Ann Pasternak Slater.

Raine's first two collections of poems, The Onion, Memory ( Oxford, 1978) and A Martian Sends a Postcard Home ( Oxford, 1979), accompanied competition successes and attracted a great deal of attention. His hallmark in both books was vitality in metaphor and simile. Some critics complained of an over-reliance on ostentatious effects; others defended the plurality and vigour of Raine's imagination. James *Fenton and others saw Raine as the founder of the *Martian school, which took a fresh, transforming look at the everyday. A Free Translation ( Edinburgh 1981) and Rich ( London, 1984) were as strikingly inventive (and tender, even sentimental) as the debut volumes. They also demonstrated once again Raine's affinity with the modernist writers he has repeatedly written on (* Eliot, * Joyce, * Stevens). Since Rich Raine has written two adaptations for the stage: The Electrification of the Soviet Union ( London, 1986), an opera libretto after a novella by Pasternak, and '1953' ( London, 1990), a version of Racine Andromaque.

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