All poets in this blog in alphabetical order. Numbers after the poet's name (2, 3, 4, etc.) refer to more poems by them (2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc.).

(Alternatively, you can get back to the chronological list here.)

- Anon 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
- Armitage, Simon 2
- Atwood, Margaret
- Auden, WH 2
- Bhaskaracharya
- Bishop, Elizabeth 2
- Blake, William
- Borges, Jorge Luis 2
- Brown, George Mackay 2 3 4
- Campion, Thomas
- Catullus
- Celan, Paul
- Clare, John 2
- Copus, Julia 2 3 4
- Chipasula, Stella
- Coleridge, Samuel Taylor
- Cope, Wendy 2
- Dante
- Das, Nitoo 2
- de Souza, Eunice
- Donaldson, Julia
- Donne, John
- Douglas, Keith
- Duffy, Carol Ann
- Dyer, Catherine
- Elson, Rebecca
- Fainlight, Ruth
- Francis, Matthew
- Frost, Robert
- Graham, WS 2 3
- Graves, Robert 2
- Gregory, Augusta (Lady Gregory)
- Gunn, Thom
- Gurney, Ivor 2 3
- Hadfield, Jen
- Hardy, Thomas
- Hill, Geoffrey
- Holub, Miroslav 2
- Hopkins, Gerard Manley 2
- Hughes, Ted 2
- Hughes, Langston

The Wild Man of the Woods (anon.)

Dismal is this life,
to be without a soft bed;
a cold frosty dwelling
harshness of snowy wind.

Cold icy wind,
faint shadow of a feeble sun,
the shelter of a single tree
on top of the level moor.

Enduring the shower,
stepping along deer-paths,
traversing greenswards
on a morning of raw frost...

(Irish; author unknown; 12th Century; trans. Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson)

(to Contents)


Wood Not Yet Out by Alice Oswald

closed and containing everything, the land
leaning all round to blok it from the wind,
a squirrel sprinting in startles and sees
sections of distance tilted through the trees
and where you jump the fence a flap of sacking
does for a stile, you walk through webs, the cracking
bushtwigs break their secrecies, the sun
vanishes up, instantly come and gone.
once in, you hardly notice as you move,
the wood keeps lifting up its hope, I love
to stand among the last trees listening down
to the releasing branches where I've been -
the rain, thinking I've gone, crackles the air
and calls by name the leaves that aren't yet there

(to Contents)


The Making of Eve by Julia Copus

And kneeling one day at the sea's edge God
scooped a fist of mud from the earth and pressed it
into a shape called man. Its coldness spread

like an ache through his fingers and as He
stooped to warm them by chance a small
cloud of breath seeped into the shape and it lived.

But by and by when the sun was high up
in hte sky man began to crack and fall
into pieces. Then God lifted some salt

water into his cupped hands and called it
woman, smoothing it into the fractured clay.
Now whenever man got hot he hankered for

a long cool sip from woman and she
assented sometimes wanting a place
to rest safe from the tireless assaults

of the wind and craving for a while
a different sort of medium to move in.

(to Contents)


Arizona Nature Myth by James Michie

Up in the heavenly saloon
Sheriff sun and rustler moon
gamble, stuck in the sheriff's mouth
The fag end of an afternoon.

There in the bad town of the sky
Sheriff, nervy, wonders why
He's let himself wander so far West
On his own; he looks with a smoky eye

At the ruslter opposite turning white,
Lays down a king for Law, sits tight
Bluffing. On it that crooked moon
Plays an ace and shoots for the light.

Spurs, badge, and uniform red,
(It looks like blood, but he's shamming dead),
Down drops the marshal, and under cover
Crawls out dogwise, ducking his head.

But Law that don't get its man ain't Law.
Next day, faster on the draw,
Sheriff creeping up from the other side,
Blazes his way in through the back door.

But moon's not there. He's hidden out on
A galloping phenomenon,
A wonder horse, quick as light.
Moon's left town. Moon's clean gone.

(to Contents)


Truly by RS Thomas

No, I was not born
to refute Hume, to write
the first poem with no
noun. My gift was

for evasion, taking
cover at the approach
of greatness, as of
ill-fame. I looked truth

in the eye, and was not
abashed at discovering
it squinted. I fasted
at import's table, so had

an appetite for the banal,
the twelve baskets full left
over after the turning
of the little into so much.

(to Contents)


An Arundel Tomb by Philip Larkin

Side by side, their faces blurred,
The earl and countess lie in stone,
Their proper habits vaguely shown
As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,
And that faint hint of the absurd -
The little dogs under their feet.

Such plainess of the pre-baroque
Hardly involves the eye, until
It meets his left hand gauntlet, still
Clasped empty in the other; and
One sees, with sharp tender shock,
His hand withdrawn, holding her hand.

They would not think to lie so long.
Such faithfulness in effigy
Was just a detail friends could see:
A sculptor's sweet comissioned grace
Thrown off in helping to prolong
The Latin names around the base.

They would not guess how early in
Their supine stationary voyage
Their air would change to soundless damage,
Turn the old tenantry away;
How soon succeeding eyes begin
To look, not read. Rigidly they

Persisted, linked, through lengths and breadths
Of time. Snow fell, undated. Light
Each summer thronged the grass. A bright
Litter of birdcalls strewed the same
Bone-riddled ground. And up the paths
The endless altered people came,

Washing at their identity.
Now, helpless in the hollow of
An unarmorial age, a trough
Of smoke in slow suspended skeins
Above their scrap of history,
Only an attitude remains:

Time has transfigured them into
Untruth. The stone fidelity
They hardly meant has come to be
Their final blazon, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.

(to Contents)


In Opposition by Rebecca Elson

One moon between us,
Two seasons,
What else?
A few stars,
No wind.

In these moments
When we both walk,
How odd,
How we stand
The soles of our feet

Only the planet's breadth.

(to Contents)


Beni Hassan by Louis MacNeice

It came to me on the Nile my passport lied
Calling me dark who am grey. In the brown cliff
A row of tombs, of portholes, stared and stared as if
They were the long-dead eyes of beasts inside
Time's cage, black eyes on eyes that stared away
Lion-like focussed on some different day
On which, on a long-term view, it was I, not they, had died.

(to Contents)


To read only children's books by Osip Mandelshtam

To read only children's books, treasure
Only childish thoughts, throw
Grown-up things away
And rise from deep sorrows.

I'm tired to death of life,
I accept nothing it can give me,
But I love my poor earth
Because it's the only one I've seen.

In a far-off garden I swung
On a simple wooden swing,
And I remember dark tall firs
In a hazy fever.

(trans. James Greene)

(to Contents)


Warning to Children by Robert Graves

Children, if you dare to think
Of the greatness, rareness, muchness,
Fewness of this precious only
Endless world in which you say
You live, you think of things like this:
Blocks of slate enclosing dappled
Red and green, enclosing tawny
Yellow nets, enclosing white
And black acres of dominoes,
Where a neat brown paper parcel
Tempts you to untie the string.
In the parcel a small island,
On the island a large tree,
On the tree a husky fruit.
Strip the husk and pare the rind off:
In the kernel you will see
Blocks of slate enclosing dappled
Red and green, enclosing tawny
Yellow nets, enclosing white
And black acres of dominoes,
Where a neat brown paper parcel –
Children leave the string alone!
For who dares undo the parcel
Finds himself at once inside it,
On the island, in the fruit,
Blocks of slate about his head,
Finds himself enclosed by dappled
Green and red, enclosed by yellow
Tawny nets, enclosed by black
and white acres of dominoes,
With the same brown paper parcel
Still untied upon his knee.
And, if he then should dare to think
Of the fewness, muchness, rareness,
Greatness of this endless only
Precious world in which he says
He lives – he then unties the string.

(to Contents)


I think it rains by Wole Soyinka

I think it rains
That tongues may loosen from the parch
Uncleave roof-tops of the mouth, hang
Heavy with knowledge

I saw it raise
The sudden cloud, from ashes. Settling
They joined in a ring of grey; within,
The circling spirit

Oh it must rain
These closures on the mind, binding us
In strange despairs, teaching
Purity of sadness

And how it beats
Skeined transparencies on wings
Of out desires, searing dark longings
In cruel baptisms

Rain-reeds, practised in
The grace of yielding, yet unbending
From afar, this your conjugation with my earth
Bares crouching rocks.

(to Contents)


Inventory by Jorge Luis Borges

To reach it, a ladder has to be set up. There is no stair.
What can we be looking for in the attic
but the accumulation of disorder?
There is a smell of damp.
The late afternoon enters by way of the laundry.
The ceiling beams loom close, and the floor has rotted.
Nobody dares put a foot on it.
A folding cot, broken.
A few useless tools,
the dead one’s wheelchair.
The base for a lamp.
A Paraguyan hammock with tassels, all frayed away.
Equipment and papers.
An engraving of Aparicio Saravia’s general staff.
An old charcoal iron.
A clock stopped in time, with a broken pendulum.
A peeling gilt frame, with no canvas.
A cardboard chessboard, and some broken chessmen.
A stove with only two legs.
A chest made of leather.
A mildewed copy of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, in intricate Gothic lettering.
A photograph which might be of anybody.
A worn skin, once a tiger’s.
A key which has lost its lock.
What can we be looking for in the attic
except the flotsam of disorder?
To forgetting, to all forgotten objects I have just erected this monument
(Unquestionably less durable than bronze) which will be lost among them.

(to Contents)


Confrontation by RS Thomas

And there was the serpent
running like water
but more quietly with no desire
to bicker. They see us
with smooth eye; what is a man
in a snake's world? And if
we would come to close,
thye strike us as painfully
as the truth.
xxxxxxxxxxx It is no part
of divine mind to repudiate
its reflections. We must exchange
stare for stare, looking
into that eye as into a dark
crystal, asking if Eden
is where we must continually
seek to charm evil by playing
to it, knowing that it is deaf.

(to Contents)


Hermits by Gwyneth Lewis

I know I could be really good
if I had a private loch and bog
away from the other hermits' cells.
Colman and his bloody bells

disrupt my praying. Ican see
his candles burn across the bay
more hours than mine. It drives me wild,
so crowded are these blessed isles

with would-be saints who all deny
the flesh in more outrageous ways.
I want to be indifferent as stone.
I demand to be holy all on my own.

(to Contents)


Mushrooms by Sylvia Plath

Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.

Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.

Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,

Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,

Perfectly voiceless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We

Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!

We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot's in the door.

(to Contents)


"And I was in the sun" by Dante

And I was in the sun, no more aware
of my ascent than one can be aware
of how a thought will come before it comes.

She it is, Beatrice, guides our climb
from good to better instantaneously -
her action has no measurement in time.

How brilliant in its essence must have been
what shone within the sun, where I had come,
not with its colour but light on light!

Even if I called on genius, art, and skill
I could not make this live before your eyes -
a man must trust and long to see it there.

If our imagination cannot rise
to such a height, no need to be surprised.
No eye has known light brighter than the sun's...

(from Paradise, trans. Mark Musa)

(to Contents)


My Rival’s House by Liz Lochhead

is peopled with many surfaces.
Ormolu and gilt, slipper satin,
lush velvet couches,
cusions so stiff you can’t sink in.
Tables polished clear enough to see distortions in.

We take our shoes off at her door,
shuffle stocking-toed, tiptoe – the parquet floor
is beautiful and its surface must
be protected. Dust
cover, drawn shade,
won’t let the surface colour fade.

Silver sugar-tongs and silver salver
my rival serves us tea.
She glosses over him and me.
I am all edges, a surface, a shell
and yet my rival thinks she means me well.
But what squirms beneath her surface I can tell.
Soon, my rival
capped tooth, polished nail
will fight, fight foul for her survival.
Deferential, daughterly, I sip
and thank her nicely for each bitter cup.

And I have much to thank her for.
This son she bore –
first blood to her –
never, never can escape scot free
the sour potluck of family.
And oh how close
this family that furnishes my rival’s place.

Lady of the house.
Queen bee.

She is far more unconscious,
far more dangerous than me.
Listen, I was always my own worst enemy.
She has taken even this from me.

She dishes up her dreams for breakfast.
Dinner, and her salt tears pepper our soup.
She won’t
give up.

(to Contents)


Water by Philip Larkin

If I were called
To construct a religion
I should make use of water.

Going to church
Would entail a fording
To dry, different clothes;

My liturgy would employ
Images of sousing,
A furious devout drench,

And I should raise in the east
A glass of water
Where any-angled light
Would congregate endlessly.

(to Contents)


Ariel's Song by Shakespeare

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange:
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell.
Hark! now I hear them,
- Ding-dong, bell!

(to Contents)

The Milestone by the Rabbit-Burrow - by Thomas Hardy

(On Yell'ham Hill)

In my loamy nook
As I dig my hole
I observe men look
At a stone, then sigh
As they pass it by
To some far goal.

Something it says
To their glancing eyes
That must distress
The frail and lame,
And the strong of frame
Gladden or surprise.

Do signs on its face
Declare how far
Feet have to trace
Before they gain
Some blest champaign
Where no gins are?

(to Contents)

Lovesong for Three Children by Alice Oswald

It starts at pitch quiet
when sleep cloths up sound
and the dead tongue keeps
jointing nad disjointing words,

when breathing blows the ear's
doors a little open and
my heart in note form
steals from its instrument O

now it begins to sing
O those three children and
sings it until light
infiltrates this cone of bones

and I can see you,
my voice, hanging in the
belfry emptiness of the throat,
your two ropes swinging slightly.

(to Contents)

The Gobbled Child by WS Graham

To set the scene. It is April
Early with little streams
Of tide running out
Between the kelp and bladders
On the still loch-side.

From the big house behind us
Five-year-old Iain
Comes out to play under
The mewing of terns
and peeping oystercatchers.

His father is up and out
Driving his loud, begulled
Tractor on the high field.
Maggy hums on the green
With a clothes-peg in her teeth.

And Iain with his fair head
Cocked stands listening
To a magic, held shell
And a big beast comes out
Of the loch and gobbles him up.

To set the scene. It is April
Early with little streams
Of tide running out
Between the kelp and bladders
On the still loch-side.

(to Contents)