Hot hot boiling the flood rises
welling up throat-way out lips

hear me the small boy whispered in his dream
chasing a tennis-ball over the top of the world

hear me the mouth of the youth stumbled and cried
dazed but awake in a room of battered furniture

hear me the young man told his deaf bride
who saw the words and fled that chanting poet


People of the future, people looking at water,
carrying the sun on their shoulder, feet among stones,
watching the nets of light
hearing my words
from a buried town in time
look! a new story
ferried on waves of light
a far-off burning
now faintly approaching

So I stab out dumbness in words
I, singer of twenty years

When first I set my words in stones
(indeed, the poem was of a tower)
I thought that liquid moods and tones
would give the architecture power
to glow to change to speak to be.
I thought to write a magic word
when I left school for poetry.
I wrote – and wrote – and who has heard?

An ivy-tendril climbed along
a faded Oxford-college wall:
such greenness, then, was near my song.
And yet there were no leaves at all.
(It was my second verse.) I wrote
to bless the scholar’s stone with flower . . .
and breathed a soft, life-carrying note
in Ivy-Tendril, Magdalen Tower.

I wrote – and wrote – and who has heard?
A thousand poems, that seem as one:
and of that growing and structured word
the flowers are quiet, and dumb the stone.
O my first poems, my first small poems –
though worldly minds must view with scorn
that delicate strength, those trembling rhythms . . .
I weep inside that you were born.

Snow snow freshness on berries
of holly. Snow bucketing out down
wastes of air, cold landscape of the mind.

Children fluttering bits of paper
ran out of the sky
and down a playground space to meet me.
By sheer luck I
interpreted the drift. And as they rushed past
a snowflake lit
inside a structure that was planned to take it,
not damaging it.

To Do with Freedom was the booklet’s title
that held this prize . . .
and still (and so for ever) will it glide down
to readers’ eyes.
And so upon an inexperienced teacher
a blessing came
who saw and held the poetry of children
and has no name


London war-bastard skulking in the wrong home

no name

Jewish splinter shivering in a warm garden

no name no name

train-inspired schoolboy with a satchel of stamps and comics
arguer revving up on chess cross-country and Classics
college-boy piercing the past to meet the great poets

no name

who am I?

palmed off with a surname
that never could fit
an Englishman’s culture
attaching to it . . .
dressed in a language
that festoons my soul –
I live – love – am English
and cannot be whole

So I, non-Jew out of burnt towns
of countries smashed by the Curtain

so I bite on the question

I anathema of Gentile, I the Jewish illiterate


I angry for England, torn for Israel


I the English scholar and I, English teacher

I English father, and the ex-husband

I the poet, borne on the sea of Shakespeare’s and Chaucer’s words

maker of meanings, breaker of barriers
searching the song, casting the shadows for sun

I the turnabout lover, caught by God’s grace

able to pen a word for all the race

completed now in young days


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