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Angry and Forgiving At the Same Time


from an interview with William Matthews, by Peter Davison, two weeks before his death in November 1997

PD. What have you specifically learned from Horace, from Martial?

WM. Horace and Martial are interested in how humans interact. What matters to these poets is what is most vivid to us and what energizes us most on a daily basis -- a life defined by the ways in which humans are social animals, the ways in which we suffer from being social animals. From Martial, I learned foremost how important it is to find ways to be angry with human folly and failure and to be forgiving of it at the same time, because you know when your turn to be riddled with folly comes around that you'll do a great job.

From Horace, I learned that pleasure in itself and friendship in itself are valuable subjects, period. They don't need to be compared to anything. You don't need to go through the masquerade of the Renaissance, for example, in which romantic love is important because it imitates divine love. Love is important on its own terms and because of its own experience, and that's an end to it. Horace's bemusement with the elaborate construction and parody (at the same time) of his own persona is a spectacle. Horace's way of understanding what it means to be Horace is so much more complicated and richer than most of what our culture makes available to us that it's tonic.

29 October, 1997





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About the Author

Welcome to the website of the English poet and critic, Ben Wilkinson.
Ben was born in Staffordshire and now lives in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. He received his first degree from the University of Sheffield, and holds an MA and PhD from Sheffield Hallam University. He has won numerous awards for his poetry, including the Poetry Business Competition and a 2014 Northern Writers' Award
His debut full collection of poems, Way More Than Luck, appeared from Seren Books in February 2018.
He is a keen distance runner, lifelong Liverpool Football Club fan, and among other things he works as poetry critic for The Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement. You can find many of his reviews on this site.
To contact Ben about readings, workshops, or for any other enquiries, you can drop him a line at benwilko(at sign)gmail.com. Unfortunately, I am not able to consider unsolicited requests from authors for book reviews.

You can follow Ben on Twitter - @BenWilko85 - and on Facebook.

You can find B…