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  • Edexcel GCSE

    Poetry Anthology GCSE English and GCSE English Literature

    The Edexcel GCSE Poetry Anthology should be used to prepare students for assessment in:English 2EH01 - Unit 3 English Literature 2ET01 - Unit 2

  • Published by Pearson Education Limited, a company incorporated in England and Wales, having its registered office at Edinburgh Gate, Harlow, Essex, CM20 2JE. Registered company number: 872828

    Edexcel is a registered trade mark of Edexcel Limited

    Pearson Education Limited 2009

    First published 2009

    12 11 10 0910 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

    British Library Cataloguing in Publication DataA catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

    ISBN 978 1 84690 641 1

    Copyright noticeAll rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means (including photocopyingor storing it in any medium by electronic means and whether or not transiently or incidentally to some other use of thispublication) without the written permission of the copyright owner, except in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright,Designs and Patents Act 1988 or under the terms of a licence issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency, Saffron House, 610Kirby Street, London, EC1N 8TS ( Applications for the copyright owners written permission should be addressedto the publisher.

    Picture research by Alison PriorIllustrated by Bob DoucetPrinted and bound by Ashford Colour Press Ltd., Gosport

    See page 72 for acknowledgements.

  • Collection A: Relationships 1

    Collection B: Clashes and collisions 19

    Collection C: Somewhere, anywhere 37

    Collection D: Taking a stand 55


  • Valentine 2Carol Ann Duffy

    Rubbish at Adultery 3Sophie Hannah

    Sonnet 116 4William Shakespeare

    Our Love Now 5Martyn Lowery

    Even Tho 6Grace Nichols

    Kissing 7Fleur Adcock

    One Flesh 8Elizabeth Jennings

    Song for Last Years Wife 9Brian Patten

    My Last Duchess 10Robert Browning

    Pity me not because the light of day 12Edna St. Vincent Millay

    The Habit of Light 13Gillian Clarke

    Nettles 14Vernon Scannell

    At the border, 1979 15Choman Hardi

    Lines to my Grandfathers 16Tony Harrison

    04/01/07 18Ian McMillan



    Collection A

  • Relationships



    Not a red rose or a satin heart.

    I give you an onion.

    It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.

    It promises light

    5 like the careful undressing of love.


    It will blind you with tears

    like a lover.

    It will make your refl ection

    10 a wobbling photo of grief.

    I am trying to be truthful.

    Not a cute card or a kissogram.

    I give you an onion.

    Its fi erce kiss will stay on your lips,

    15 possessive and faithful

    as we are,

    for as long as we are.

    Take it.

    Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,

    20 if you like.


    Its scent will cling to your fi ngers,

    cling to your knife.

    Carol Ann Duffy

  • Collection A



    Rubbish at Adultery

    Must I give up another night

    To hear you whinge and whine

    About how terribly grim you feel

    And what a dreadful swine

    5 You are? You say youll never leave

    Your wife and children. Fine;

    When have I ever asked you to?

    Id settle for a kiss.

    Couldnt you, for an hour or so,

    10 Just leave them out of this?

    A rare ten minutes off from guilty

    Diatribes what bliss.

    Yes, Im aware youre sensitive:

    A tortured, wounded soul.

    15 Im after passion, thrills and fun.

    You say fun takes its toll,

    So what are we doing here? I fear

    Weve lost our common goal.

    Youre rubbish at adultery.

    20 I think you ought to quit.

    Trouble is, though, fi delity?

    Youre just as crap at it.

    Choose one and do it properly,

    You stupid, stupid git.

    Sophie Hannah

  • Relationships

    Sonnet 116

    Let me not to the marriage of true minds

    Admit impediments: love is not love

    Which alters when it alteration fi nds,

    Or bends with the remover to remove.

    5 O, no! it is an ever-fi xd mark

    That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

    It is the star to every wandering bark,

    Whose worths unknown, although his height be taken.

    Loves not Times fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

    10 Within his bending sickles compass come;

    Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

    But bears it out even to the edge of doom:

    If this be error and upon me proved,

    I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

    William Shakespeare


  • Collection A



    I said,

    observe how the wound heals in time, how the skin slowly knits

    and once more becomes whole

    5 The cut will mend, and such

    is our relationship.

    I said,

    observe the scab of the scald,

    15 the red burnt fl esh is ugly,

    but it can be hidden.

    In time it will disappear,

    Such is our love, such is our love.

    25 I said,

    remember how when you cut your hair,

    you feel different, and somehow incomplete.

    But the hair grows before long

    it is always the same.

    30 Our beauty together is such.

    I said,

    listen to how the raging storm

    damages the trees outside.

    40 The storm is frightening

    but it will soon be gone.

    People will forget it ever existed.

    The breach in us can be mended.

    She said,

    Although the wound heals

    and appears cured, it is not the same.

    10 There is always a scar,

    a permanent reminder.

    Such is our love now.

    She said,

    20 Although the burn will no longer sting

    and well almost forget that its there

    the skin remains bleached

    and a numbness prevails.

    Such is our love now.

    She said,

    After youve cut your hair,

    it grows again slowly. During that time

    changes must occur,

    35 the style will be different.

    Such is our love now.

    She said,

    45 Although the storm is temporary

    and soon passes,

    it leaves damage in its wake

    which can never be repaired.

    The tree is forever dead.

    50 Such is our love.

    Martyn Lowery

    Our Love Now

    The line reference numbers have been added for ease of reference to the poem. They do not dictate the appropriate stanza order.

  • Relationships


    Even Tho

    Man I love

    but wont let you devour

    even tho

    Im all watermelon

    5 and starapple and plum

    when you touch me

    even tho

    Im all seamoss

    and jellyfi sh

    10 and tongue


    leh we go to de carnival

    You be banana

    I be avocado

    15 Come

    leh we hug up

    and brace-up

    and sweet one another up

    But then

    20 leh we break free

    yes, leh we break free

    And keep to de motion

    of we own person/ality

    Grace Nichols

  • Collection A




    The young are walking on the riverbank,

    arms around each others waists and shoulders,

    pretending to be looking at the waterlilies

    and what might be a nest of some kind, over

    5 there, which two who are clamped together

    mouth to mouth have forgotten about.

    The others, making courteous detours

    around them, talk, stop talking, kiss.

    They can see no one older than themselves.

    10 Its their river. Theyve got all day.

    Seeings not everything. At this very

    moment the middle-aged are kissing

    in the back of taxis, on the way

    to airports and stations. Their mouths and tongues

    15 are soft and powerful and as moist as ever.

    Their hands are not inside each others clothes

    (because of the driver) but locked so tightly

    together that it hurts: it may leave marks

    on their not of course youthful skin, which they wont

    20 notice. They too may have futures.

    Fleur Adcock

  • Relationships

    One Flesh

    Lying apart now, each in a separate bed,

    He with a book, keeping the light on late,

    She like a girl dreaming of childhood,

    All men elsewhere it is as if they wait

    5 Some new event: the book he holds unread,

    Her eyes fi xed on the shadows overhead.

    Tossed up like fl otsam from a former passion,

    How cool they lie. They hardly ever touch,

    Or if they do it is like a confession

    10 Of having little feeling or too much.

    Chastity faces them, a destination

    For which their whole lives were a preparation.

    Strangely apart, yet strangely close together,

    Silence between them like a thread to hold

    15 And not wind in. And time itself s a feather

    Touching them gently. Do they know theyre old,

    These two who are my father and my mother

    Whose fi re from which I came, has now grown cold?

    Elizabeth Jennings


  • Collection A



    Song for Last Years Wife

    Alice, this is my fi rst winter

    of waking without you, of knowing

    that you, dressed in familiar clothes

    are elsewhere, perhaps not even

    5 conscious of our anniversary. Have

    you noticed? The earths still as hard,

    the same empty gardens exist; it is

    as if nothing special had changed,

    I wake with another mouth feeding

    10 from me, yet still feel as if

    Love had not the right

    to walk out of me. A year now. So

    what? you say. I send out my spies.

    to discover what you are doing. They smile,

    15 return, tell me your bodys as fi rm,

    you are as alive, as warm and inviting

    as when they knew you fi rst ... Perhaps it is

    the winter, its isolation from other seasons,

    that sends me your ghost to witness

    20 when I wake. Somebody came here today, asked

    how you were keeping, what

    you were doing. I imagine you,

    waking in another city, touched

    by this same hour. So ordinary

    25 a thing as loss comes now and touches me.

    Brian Patten

  • Relationships


    My Last Duchess


    Thats my last duchess painted on the wall,

    Looking as if she were alive. I call

    That piece a wonder, now: Fr Pandolfs hands

    Worked busily a day, and there she stands.

    5 Willt please you sit and look at her? I said

    Fr Pandolf by design, for never read

    Strangers like you that pictured countenance,

    The depth and passion of its earnest glance,

    But to myself they turned (since none puts by

    10 The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)

    And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,

    How such a glance came there; so, not the fi rst

    Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, twas not

    Her husbands presence only, called that spot

    15 Of joy into the Duchess cheek: perhaps

    Fr Pandolf chanced to say Her mantle laps

    Over my ladys wrist too much, or Paint

    Must never hope to reproduce the faint

    Half-fl ush that dies along her throat: such stuff

    20 Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough

    For calling up that spot of joy. She had

    A hearthow shall I say?too soon made glad,

    Too easily impressed; she liked whateer

    She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.

    25 Sir, twas all one! My favor at her breast,

    The dropping of the daylight in the West,

    The bough of cherries some offi cious fool

    Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule

    She rode with round the terraceall and each

  • Collection A



    30 Would draw from her alike the approving speech,

    Or blush, at least. She thanked mengood! but thanked

    SomehowI know not howas if she ranked

    My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name

    With anybodys gift. Whod stoop to blame

    35 This sort of trifl ing? Even had you skill

    In speechwhich I have notto make your will

    Quite clear to such a one, and say, Just this

    Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,

    Or there exceed the markand if she let

    40 Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set

    Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse

    Een then would be some stooping; and I choose

    Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt

    Wheneer I passed her; but who passed without

    45 Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;

    Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands

    As if alive. Willt please you rise? Well meet

    The company below, then. I repeat,

    The Count your masters known munifi cence

    50 Is ample warrant that no just pretense

    Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;

    Though his fair daughters self, as I avowed

    At starting, is my object. Nay, well go

    Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,

    55 Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,

    Which Clause of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!

    Robert Browning

  • Relationships


    Pity me not because the light of day

    Pity me not because the light of day

    At close of day no longer walks the sky;

    Pity me not for beauties passed away

    From fi eld and thicket as the year goes by;

    5 Pity me not the waning of the moon,

    Nor that the ebbing tide goes out to sea,

    Nor that a mans desire is hushed so soon,

    And you no longer look with love on me.

    This have I known always: Love is no more

    10 Than the wide blossom which the wind assails,

    Than the great tide that treads the shifting shore,

    Strewing fresh wreckage gathered in the gales:

    Pity me that the heart is slow to learn

    What the swift mind beholds at every turn.

    Edna St. Vincent Millay

  • Relationships


    Collection A

    The Habit of Light

    In the early evening, she liked to switch on the lamps

    in corners, on low tables, to show off her brass,

    her polished furniture, her silver and glass.

    At dawn shed draw all the curtains back for a glimpse

    5 of the cloud-lit sea. Her oak fl oors fl ickered

    in an opulence of beeswax and light.

    In the kitchen, saucepans danced their lids, the kettle purred

    on the Aga, supper on its breath and the buttery melt

    of a pie, and beyond the swimming glass of old windows,

    10 in the deep perspective of the garden, a blackbird singing,

    shed come through the bean rows in tottering shoes,

    her pinny full of strawberries, a lettuce, bringing

    the palest potatoes in a colander, her red hair bright

    with her habit of colour, her habit of light.

    Gillian Clarke


  • Relationships


    My son aged three fell in the nettle bed.

    Bed seemed a curious name for those green spears,

    That regiment of spite behind the shed:

    It was no place for rest. With sobs and tears

    5 The boy came seeking comfort and I saw

    White blisters beaded on his tender skin.

    We soothed him till his pain was not so raw.

    At last he offered us a watery grin,

    And then I took my billhook, honed the blade

    10 And went outside and slashed in fury with it

    Till not a nettle in that fi erce parade

    Stood upright any more. And then I lit

    A funeral pyre to burn the fallen dead,

    But in two weeks the busy sun and rain

    15 Had called up tall recruits behind the shed:

    My son would often feel sharp wounds again.

    Vernon Scannell


  • Relationships


    Collection A

    At the border, 1979

    It is your last check-in point in this country!

    We grabbed a drink

    soon everything would taste different.

    The land under our feet continued

    5 divided by a thick iron chain.

    My sister put her leg across it.

    Look over here, she said to us,

    my right leg is in this country

    and my left leg is in the other.

    10 The border guards told her off.

    My mother informed me: We are going home.

    She said that the roads are much cleaner

    the landscape is more beautiful

    and people are much kinder.

    15 Dozens of families waited in the rain.

    I can inhale home, somebody said.

    Now our mothers were crying. I was fi ve years old

    standing by the check-in point

    comparing both sides of the border.

    20 The autumn soil continued on the other side

    with the same colour, the same texture.

    It rained on both sides of the chain.

    We waited while our papers were checked,

    our faces thoroughly inspected.

    25 Then the chain was removed to let us through.

    A man bent down and kissed his muddy homeland.

    The same chain of mountains encompasses all of us.

    Choman Hardi


  • Relationships


    Lines to my Grandfathers


    Ploughed parallel as print the stony earth.

    The straight stone walls defy the steep grey slopes.

    The places rightness for my mothers birth

    exceeds the pilgrim grandsons wildest hopes

    5 Wilkinson farmed Thrang Crag, Martindale.

    Horner was the Haworth signalman.

    Harrison kept a pub with home-brewed ale:

    fell farmer, railwayman, and publican,

    and he, while granma slaved to tend the vat

    10 graced the rival bars to make comparisons,

    Queens Arms, the Duke of this, the Duke of that,

    while his was known as just The Harrisons .

    He carried cane and guineas, no coin baser!

    He dressed the gentleman beyond his place

    15 and paid in gold for beer and whisky chaser

    but took his knuckleduster, just in case.

  • Relationships


    Collection A


    The one who lived with us was grampa Horner

    who, I remember, when a sewer rat

    got driven into our dark cellar corner

    20 booted it to pulp and squashed it fl at.

    He cobbled all our boots. Ive got his last.

    We use it as a doorstop on warm days.

    My present is propped open by their past

    and looks out over straight and narrow ways:

    25 the way one ploughed his land, one squashed a rat,

    kept railtracks clear, or, dressed up to the nines,

    with waxed moustache, gold chain, his cane, his hat,

    drunk as a lord could foot it on straight lines.

    Fell farmer, railwayman and publican,

    30 I strive to keep my lines direct and straight,

    and try to make connections where I can

    the knuckledusters now my paperweight!

    Tony Harrison


  • Relationships



    The telephone shatters the nights dark glass.

    Im suddenly awake in the new year air

    And in the moment it takes a life to pass

    From waking to sleeping I feel you there.

    5 My brothers voice that sounds like mine

    Gives me the news I already knew.

    Outside a milk fl oat clinks and shines

    And a lit plane drones in the nights dark blue,

    And I feel the tears slap my torn face;

    10 The light clicks on. I rub my eyes.

    Im trapped inside that empty space

    You fl oat in when your mother dies.

    Feeling that the story ends just here,

    The stream dried up, the smashed glass clear.

    Ian McMillan

  • Half-caste 20John Agard

    Parades End 21Daljit Nagra

    Belfast Confetti 22Ciaran Carson

    Our Sharpeville 23Ingrid de Kok

    Exposure 24Wilfred Owen

    Catrin 26Gillian Clarke

    Your Dad Did What? 27Sophie Hannah

    The Class Game 28Mary Casey

    Cousin Kate 29Christina Rossetti

    HitcherHitcher 3030Simon Armitage

    The Drum 31John Scott

    O What is that Sound 32W.H. Auden

    Conscientious Objector 34Edna St. Vincent Millay

    August 6, 1945 35Alison Fell

    Invasion 36Choman Hardi

    Collection B


  • 20

    Excuse me

    standing on one leg

    Im half-caste

    Explain yuself

    5 wha yu mean

    when you say half-caste

    yu mean when picasso

    mix red an green

    is a half-caste canvas/

    10 explain yuself

    wha yu mean

    when yu say half-caste

    yu mean when light an shadow

    mix in de sky

    15 is a half-caste weather/

    well in dat case

    england weather

    nearly always half-caste

    in fact some o dem cloud

    20 half-caste till dem overcast

    so spiteful dem dont want de sun pass

    ah rass/

    explain yuself

    wha yu mean

    25 when you say half-caste

    yu mean tchaikovsky

    sit down at dah piano

    an mix a black key

    wid a white key

    30 is a half-caste symphony/

    Explain yuself

    wha yu mean

    Ah listening to yu wid de keen

    half of mih ear

    35 Ah lookin at yu wid de keen

    half of mih eye

    and when Im introduced to yu

    Im sure youll understand

    why I offer yu half-a-hand

    40 an when I sleep at night

    I close half-a-eye

    consequently when I dream

    I dream half-a-dream

    an when moon begin to glow

    45 I half-caste human being

    cast half-a-shadow

    but yu must come back tomorrow

    wid de whole of yu eye

    an de whole of yu ear

    50 an de whole of yu mind

    an I will tell yu

    de other half

    of my story

    John Agard


  • Collection B


    Parades End

    Daljit Nagra

    This poem is not available in this online version.

  • Belfast Confetti

    Suddenly as the riot squad moved in, it was raining

    exclamation marks,

    Nuts, bolts, nails, car-keys. A fount of broken type. And the


    Itself - an asterisk on the map. This hyphenated line, a burst

    of rapid fi re

    I was trying to complete a sentence in my head but it kept


    5 All the alleyways and side streets blocked with stops and


    I know this labyrinth so well - Balaclava, Raglan, Inkerman,

    Odessa Street -

    Why cant I escape? Every move is punctuated. Crimea

    Street. Dead end again.

    A Saracen, Kremlin-2 mesh. Makrolon face-shields. Walkie-

    talkies. What is

    My name? Where am I coming from? Where am I going? A

    fusillade of question-marks.

    Ciaran Carson Ciaran Carson


  • Collection B


    Our Sharpeville

    I was playing hopscotch on the slate when miners roared past in lorries, their arms raised, signals at a crossing, their chanting foreign and familiar,5 like the call and answer of road gangs across the veld, building hot arteries from the heart of the Transvaal mine.

    I ran to the gate to watch them pass. And it seemed like a great caravan10 moving across the desert to an oasis I remembered from my Sunday School book: olive trees, a deep jade pool, men resting in clusters after a long journey, the danger of the mission still around them15 and night falling, its silver stars just like the ones you got for remembering your Bible texts.

    Then my grandmother called from behind the front door, her voice a stiff broom over the steps: Come inside; they do things to little girls.

    20 For it was noon, and there was no jade pool. Instead, a pool of blood that already had a living name and grew like a shadow as the day lengthened. The dead, buried in voices that reached even my gate, the chanting men on the ambushed trucks,25 these were not heroes in my town, but maulers of children, doing things that had to remain nameless. And our Sharpeville was this fearful thing that might tempt us across the wellswept streets.

    30 If I had turned I would have seen brocade curtains drawn tightly across sheer net ones, known there were eyes behind both, heard the dogs pacing in the locked yard next door. But, walking backwards, all I felt was shame,35 at being a girl, at having been found at the gate, at having heard my grandmother lie and at my fear her lie might be true. Walking backwards, called back,

    I returned to the closed rooms, home.

    Ingrid de Kok

  • 24


    Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knive us

    Wearied we keep awake because the night is silent

    Low, drooping fl ares confuse our memories of the salient

    Worried by silence, sentries whisper, curious, nervous,

    5 But nothing happens.

    Watching, we hear the mad gusts tugging on the wire,

    Like twitching agonies of men among its brambles.

    Northward, incessantly, the fl ickering gunnery rumbles,

    Far off, like a dull rumour of some other war.

    10 What are we doing here?

    The poignant misery of dawn begins to grow

    We only know war lasts, rain soaks, and clouds sag stormy.

    Dawn massing in the east her melancholy army

    Attacks once more in ranks on shivering ranks of grey,

    15 But nothing happens.

    Sudden successive fl ights of bullets streak the silence.

    Less deadly than the air that shudders black with snow,

    With sidelong fl owing fl akes that fl ock, pause, and renew,

    We watch them wandering up and down the winds nonchalance,

    20 But nothing happens.

    Pale fl akes with fi ngering stealth come feeling for our faces

    We cringe in holes, back on forgotten dreams, and stare, snow-


    Deep into grassier ditches. So we drowse, sun-dozed,

    Littered with blossoms trickling where the blackbird fusses.

    25 Is it that we are dying?

  • Collection B

    Slowly our ghosts drag home: glimpsing the sunk fi res, glozed

    With crusted dark-red jewels; crickets jingle there;

    For hours the innocent mice rejoice: The house is theirs;

    Shutters and doors, all closed: on us the doors are closed,

    30 We turn back to our dying.

    Since we believe not otherwise can kind fi res burn;

    Nor ever suns smile true on child, or fi eld, or fruit.

    For Gods invincible spring our love is made afraid;

    Therefore, not loath, we lie out here; therefore were born,

    35 For love of God seems dying.

    Tonight, His frost will fasten on this mud and us,

    Shrivelling many hands, puckering foreheads crisp.

    The burying party, picks and shovels in the shaking grasp,

    Pause over half-known faces. All their eyes are ice,

    40 But nothing happens.

    Wilfred Owen

    35 For love of God seems dying.

    Tonight, His frost will fasten on this mud and us,

    Shrivelling many hands, puckering foreheads crisp.

    The burying party, picks and shovels in the shaking grasp,

    Pause over half-known faces. All their eyes are ice,

    40 But nothing happens.

    Wilfred Owen


  • 26


    I can remember you, child,

    As I stood in a hot, white

    Room at the window watching

    The people and cars taking

    5 Turn at the traffi c lights.

    I can remember you, our fi rst

    Fierce confrontation, the tight

    Red rope of love which we both

    Fought over. It was a square

    10 Environmental blank, disinfected

    Of paintings or toys. I wrote

    All over the walls with my

    Words, coloured the clean squares

    With the wild, tender circles

    15 Of our struggle to become

    Separate. We want, we shouted,

    To be two, to be ourselves.

    Neither won nor lost the struggle

    In the glass tank clouded with feelings

    20 Which changed us both. Still I am fi ghting

    You off, as you stand there

    With your straight, strong, long

    Brown hair and your rosy,

    Defi ant glare, bringing up

    25 From the hearts pool that old rope,

    Tightening about my life,

    Trailing love and confl ict,

    As you ask may you skate

    In the dark, for one more hour.

    Gillian Clarke

  • Collection B


    Your Dad Did What?

    Where they have been, if they have been away,

    or what theyve done at home, if they have not

    you make them write about the holiday.

    One writes My Dad did. What? Your Dad did what?

    5 Thats not a sentence. Never mind the bell.

    We stay behind until the work is done.

    You count their words (you who can count and spell);

    all the assignments are complete bar one

    and though this boy seems bright, that one is his.

    10 He says hes fi nished, doesnt want to add

    anything, hands it in just as it is.

    No change. My Dad did. What? What did his Dad?

    You fi nd the E you gave him as you sort

    through reams of what this girl did, what that lad did,

    15 and read the line again, just one e short:

    This holiday was horrible. My Dad did.

    Sophie Hannah

  • 28

    The Class Game

    How can you tell what class Im from?

    I can talk posh like some

    With an Olly in me mouth

    Down me nose, wear an at not a scarf

    5 With me second-hand clothes.

    So why do you always wince when you hear

    Me say Tara to me Ma instead of Bye Mummy


    How can you tell what class Im from?

    Cos we live in a corpy, not like some

    10 In a pretty little semi, out Wirral way

    And commute into Liverpool by train each day?

    Or did I drop my unemployment card

    Sitting on your patio (We have a yard)?

    How can you tell what class Im from?

    15 Have I a label on me head, and another on me bum?

    Or is it because my hands are stained with toil?

    Instead of soft lily-white with perfume and oil?

    Dont I crook me little fi nger when I drink me tea

    Say toilet instead of bog when I want to pee?

    20 Why do you care what class Im from?

    Does it stick in your gullet like a sour plum?

    Well, mate! A cleaner is me mother

    A docker is me brother

    Bread pudding is wet nelly

    25 And me stomach is me belly

    And Im proud of the class that I come from.

    Mary Casey

  • Collection B


    I was a cottage-maiden

    Hardened by sun and air,

    Contented with my cottage-mates,

    Not mindful I was fair.

    5 Why did a great lord fi nd me out

    And praise my fl axen hair?

    Why did a great lord fi nd me out

    To fi ll my heart with care?

    He lured me to his palace-home

    10 Woes me for joy thereof

    To lead a shameless shameful life,

    His plaything and his love.

    He wore me like a golden knot,

    He changed me like a glove:

    15 So now I moan an unclean thing

    Who might have been a dove.

    O Lady Kate, my Cousin Kate,

    You grow more fair than I:

    He saw you at your fathers gate,

    20 Chose you and cast me by.

    He watched your steps along the lane,

    Your sport among the rye:

    He lifted you from mean estate

    To sit with him on high.

    25 Because you were so good and pure

    He bound you with his ring:

    The neighbours call you good and pure,

    Call me an outcast thing.

    Even so I sit and howl in dust

    30 You sit in gold and sing:

    Now which of us has tenderer heart?

    You had the stronger wing.

    O Cousin Kate, my love was true,

    Your love was writ in sand:

    35 If he had fooled not me but you,

    If you stood where I stand,

    He had not won me with his love

    Nor bought me with his land:

    I would have spit into his face

    40 And not have taken his hand.

    Yet Ive a gift you have not got

    And seem not like to get:

    For all your clothes and wedding-ring

    Ive little doubt you fret.

    45 My fair-haired son, my shame, my pride,

    Cling closer, closer yet:

    Your sire would give broad lands for one

    To wear his coronet.

    Christina Rossetti

    Cousin Kate

  • 30


    Simon Armitage

    This poem is not available in this online version.

  • Collection B


    The Drum

    I hate that drums discordant sound,

    Parading round, and round, and round:

    To thoughtless youth it pleasure yields,

    And lures from cities and from fi elds,

    5 To sell their liberty for charms

    Of tawdry lace, and glittering arms;

    And when Ambitions voice commands,

    To march, and fi ght, and fall, in foreign lands.

    I hate that drums discordant sound,

    10 Parading round, and round, and round:

    To me it talks of ravaged plains,

    And burning towns, and ruined swains,

    And mangled limbs, and dying groans,

    And widows tears, and orphans moans;

    15 And all that Miserys hand bestows,

    To fi ll the catalogue of human woes.

    John Scott

  • 32

    O What is that Sound

    W. H. Auden

    This poem is not available in this online version.

  • Collection B

    This poem is not available in this online version.


  • 34

    Conscientious Objector

    I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death.

    I hear him leading his horse out of the stall; I hear

    the clatter on the barn-fl oor.

    He is in haste; he has business in Cuba, business in the

    Balkans, many calls to make this morning.

    But I will not hold the bridle while he cinches the girth.

    5 And he may mount by himself; I will not give him a leg up.

    Though he fl ick my shoulders with his whip, I will not

    tell him which way the fox ran.

    With his hoof on my breast, I will not tell him where the

    black boy hides in the swamp.

    I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am

    not on his pay-roll.

    I will not tell him the whereabouts of my friends nor of

    my enemies either.

    10 Though he promises me much, I will not map him the

    route to any mans door.

    Edna St. Vincent Millay

  • August 6, 1945

    In the Enola Gay

    fi ve minutes before impact

    he whistles a dry tune

    Later he will say

    5 that the whole blooming sky

    went up like an apricot ice.

    Later he will laugh and tremble

    at such a surrender, for the eye

    of his belly saw Marilyns skirts

    10 fl y over her head for ever

    On the river bank,

    bees drizzle over

    hot white rhododendrons

    Later she will walk

    15 the dust, a scarlet girl

    with her whole stripped skin

    at her heel, stuck like an old

    shoe sole or mermaids tail

    Later she will lie down

    20 in the fl ecked black ash

    where the people are become

    as lizards or salamanders

    and, blinded, she will complain:

    Mother you are late, so late

    25 Later in dreams he will look

    down shrieking and see



    Alison Fell


    Collection B

  • 36


    Soon they will come. First we will hear

    the sound of their boots approaching at dawn

    then theyll appear through the mist.

    In their death-bringing uniforms

    5 they will march towards our homes

    their guns and tanks pointing forward.

    They will be confronted by young men

    with rusty guns and boiling blood.

    These are our young men

    10 who took their short-lived freedom for granted.

    We will lose this war, and blood

    will cover our roads, mix with our

    drinking water, it will creep into our dreams.

    Keep your head down and stay in doors

    15 weve lost this war before it has begun.

    Choman Hardi

  • Collection CCollection C


    City Jungle 38Pie Corbett

    City Blues 39Mike Hayhoe

    Postcard from a Travel Snob 40Sophie Hannah

    Sea Timeless Song 41Grace Nichols

    My mothers kitchen 42Choman Hardi

    Cape Town morning 43Ingrid de Kok

    Our Town with the Whole of India! 44Daljit Nagra

    In Romney Marsh 46John Davidson

    A Major Road for Romney Marsh 47U.A. Fanthorpe

    Composed upon Westminster Bridge, 48September 3, 1802Composed upon Westminster Bridge,September 3, 1802Composed upon Westminster Bridge,

    William Wordsworth

    London 49William Blake

    London Snow 50Robert Bridges

    Assynt Mountains 51Mandy Haggith

    Orkney / This Life 52Andrew Greig

    The Stone Hare 54Gillian Clarke

  • 38

    City Jungle

    Rain splinters town.

    Lizard cars cruise by;

    Their radiators grin.

    Thin headlights stare

    5 shop doorways keep their mouths shut.

    At the roadside

    Hunched houses cough.

    Newspapers shuffl e by,

    hands in their pockets.

    10 The gutter gargles.

    A motorbike snarls;

    Dustbins fl inch.

    Streetlights bare

    Their yellow teeth.

    15 The motorways

    cat-black tongue

    lashes across

    the glistening back

    of the tarmac night.

    Pie Corbett

  • Collection C


    City Blues

    Sunday dawn in a November city

    the bully wades in

    sets glass afl ame

    shadows on anything

    5 not big enough to take it.

    The wind trees

    makes them tittletattle

    harsh small talk

    their leaves into a lurch

    10 somewhere.

    A sheet of paper

    by a coke can

    takes ridiculously to the air

    into the sunlight

    15 is a


    knows its place

    as the less fortunate should.

    In the

    20 this steeple

    comes to the point

    which is more than can be said

    for the big-time

    and their

    25 by that

    lousy sun.

    Mike Hayhoe







    fl oatsfl aps






    napalmedlit up

  • 40

    Postcard from a Travel Snob

    I do not wish that anyone were here.

    This place is not a holiday resort

    with karaoke nights and pints of beer

    for drunken tourist types perish the thought.

    5 This is a peaceful place, untouched by man

    not like your seaside-town-consumer-hell.

    Im sleeping in a local farmers van

    its great. Theres not a guest house or hotel

    within a hundred miles. Nobody speaks

    10 English (apart from me, and rest assured,

    Im not your sun-and-sangria-two-weeks-


    When youre as multi-cultural as me,

    your friends become wine connoisseurs, not drunks.

    15 Im not a British tourist in the sea;

    I am an anthropologist in trunks.

    Sophie Hannah

  • Sea Timeless Song

    Hurricane come

    and hurricane go

    but sea ... sea timeless

    sea timeless

    5 sea timeless

    sea timeless

    sea timeless

    Hibiscus bloom

    then dry-wither so

    10 but sea ... sea timeless

    sea timeless

    sea timeless

    sea timeless

    sea timeless

    15 Tourist come

    and tourist go

    but sea ... sea timeless

    sea timeless

    sea timeless

    20 sea timeless

    sea timeless

    Grace Nichols


    Collection C

  • 42

    My mothers kitchen

    I will inherit my mothers kitchen.

    Her glasses, some tall and lean, others short and fat,

    her plates, an ugly collection from various sets,

    cups bought in a rush on different occasions,

    5 rusty pots she cant bear throwing away.

    Dont buy anything just yet, she says,

    soon all of this will be yours.

    My mother is planning another escape,

    for the fi rst time home is her destination,

    10 the rebuilt house which she will furnish.

    At 69 she is excited about

    starting from scratch.

    It is her ninth time.

    She never talks about her lost furniture

    15 when she kept leaving her homes behind.

    She never feels regret for things,

    only for her vine in the front garden

    which spread over the trellis on the porch.

    She used to sing for the grapes to ripen

    20 sew cotton bags to protect them from the bees.

    I know I will never inherit my mothers trees.

    Choman Hardi

  • Collection C

    Cape Town morning

    Winter has passed. The wind is back.

    Window panes rattle old rust,

    summer rising.

    Street children sleep, shaven mummies in sacks,

    5 eyelids weighted by dreams of coins,

    beneath them treasure of small knives.

    Flower sellers add fresh blossoms

    to yesterdays blooms, sour buckets

    fi lled and spilling.

    10 And trucks digest the citys sediment

    men gloved and silent

    in the municipal jaws.

    Ingrid de Kok


  • 44

    Our Town with the Whole of India!

    Daljit Nagra

    This poem is not available in this online version.

  • Collection C

    This poem is not available in this online version.


  • As I came up from Dymchurch Wall,

    I saw above the Downs low crest

    The crimson brands of sunset fall,

    20 Flicker and fade from out the West.

    Night sank: like fl akes of silver fi re

    The stars in one great shower came down;

    Shrill blew the wind; and shrill the wire

    Rang out from Hythe to Romney town.

    25 The darkly shining salt sea drops

    Streamed as the waves clashed on the shore;

    The beach, with all its organ stops

    Pealing again, prolonged the roar.

    John Davidson

    In Romney Marsh

    As I went down to Dymchurch Wall,

    I heard the South sing oer the land

    I saw the yellow sunlight fall

    On knolls where Norman churches stand.

    5 And ringing shrilly, taut and lithe,

    Within the wind a core of sound,

    The wire from Romney town to Hythe

    Along its airy journey wound.

    A veil of purple vapour fl owed

    10 And trailed its fringe along the Straits;

    The upper air like sapphire glowed:

    And roses fi lled Heavens central gates.

    Masts in the offi ng wagged their tops;

    The swinging waves pealed on the shore;

    15 The saffron beach, all diamond drops

    And beads of surge, prolonged the roar.


  • Collection C


    A Major Road for Romney Marsh

    It is a kingdom, a continent.

    Nowhere is like it.

    (Ripe for development)

    It is salt, solitude, strangeness.

    5 It is ditches, and windcurled sheep.

    It is sky over sky after sky

    (It wants hard shoulders, Happy Eaters,

    Heavy breathing of HGVs)

    It is obstinate hermit trees.

    10 It is small, truculent churches

    Huddling under the gale force.

    (It wants WCs, Kwiksaves,

    Artics, Ind Ests, Jnctns)

    It is the Military Canal

    15 Minding its peaceable business,

    Between the Levels and the Marsh.

    (It wants investing in roads,

    Sgns syng TDEN, FSTONE, CBURY)

    It is itself, and different.

    20 (Nt fr lng. Nt fr lng.)

    U.A. Fanthorpe

  • Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802

    Earth has not anything to show more fair:

    Dull would he be of soul who could pass by

    A sight so touching in its majesty;

    This City now doth, like a garment, wear

    5 The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,

    Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie

    Open unto the fi elds, and to the sky;

    All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

    Never did sun more beautifully steep

    10 In his fi rst splendour, valley, rock, or hill;

    Neer saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!

    The river glideth at his own sweet will:

    Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;

    And all that mighty heart is lying still!

    William Wordsworth

    Earth has not anything to show more fair:

    Dull would he be of soul who could pass by

    A sight so touching in its majesty;

    This City now doth, like a garment, wear

    5 The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,

    Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie

    Open unto the fi elds, and to the sky;

    All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

    Never did sun more beautifully steep

    10 In his fi rst splendour, valley, rock, or hill;

    Neer saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!

    The river glideth at his own sweet will:

    Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;

    And all that mighty heart is lying still!

    William Wordsworth


  • Collection C



    I wander thro each charterd street

    Near where the charterd Thames does fl ow,

    And mark in every face I meet

    Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

    5 In every cry of every Man,

    In every Infants cry of fear,

    In every voice, in every ban,

    The mind-forgd manacles I hear:

    How the Chimney-sweepers cry

    10 Every blackning Church appalls,

    And the hapless Soldiers sigh

    Runs in blood down Palace walls;

    But most thro midnight streets I hear

    How the youthful Harlots curse

    15 Blasts the new-born Infants tear,

    And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.

    William Blake

  • 50

    London Snow

    When men were all asleep the snow came fl ying,

    In large white fl akes falling on the city brown,

    Stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying,

    Hushing the latest traffi c of the drowsy town;

    5 Deadening, muffl ing, stifl ing its murmurs failing;

    Lazily and incessantly fl oating down and down:

    Silently sifting and veiling road, roof and railing;

    Hiding difference, making unevenness even,

    Into angles and crevices softly drifting and sailing.

    10 All night it fell, and when full inches seven

    It lay in the depth of its uncompacted lightness,

    The clouds blew off from a high and frosty heaven;

    And all woke earlier for the unaccustomed brightness

    Of the winter dawning, the strange unheavenly glare:

    15 The eye marvelled - marvelled at the dazzling whiteness;

    The ear hearkened to the stillness of the solemn air;

    No sound of wheel rumbling nor of foot falling,

    And the busy morning cries came thin and spare.

    Then boys I heard, as they went to school, calling,

    20 They gathered up the crystal manna to freeze

    Their tongues with tasting, their hands with snowballing;

    Or rioted in a drift, plunging up to the knees;

    Or peering up from under the white-mossed wonder!

    O look at the trees! they cried, O look at the trees!

    25 With lessened load a few carts creak and blunder,

    Following along the white deserted way,

    A country company long dispersed asunder:

    When now already the sun, in pale display

    Standing by Pauls high dome, spread forth below

    30 His sparkling beams, and awoke the stir of the day.

    For now doors open, and war is waged with the snow;

    And trains of sombre men, past tale of number,

    Tread long brown paths, as toward their toil they go:

    But even for them awhile no cares encumber

    35 Their minds diverted; the daily word is unspoken,

    The daily thoughts of labour and sorrow slumber

    At the sight of the beauty that greets them, for the charm they have broken.

    Robert Bridges

  • Collection C

    Assynt Mountains

    the row of crones

    rugs on knees

    watch the coalfi re dawn

    Canisp, nearest the blaze, grins

    5 the sun rises

    between blackened stumps

    in ancient Lewisian gums

    Mandy Haggith


  • 52

    Orkney / This Life

    It is big sky and its changes,

    the sea all round and the waters within.

    It is the way sea and sky

    work off each other constantly,

    5 like people meeting in Alfred Street,

    each face coming away with a hint

    of the others face pressed in it.

    It is the way a week-long gale

    ends and folk emerge to hear

    10 a single bird cry way high up.

    It is the way you lean to me

    and the way I lean to you, as if

    we are each others prevailing;

    how we connect along our shores,

    15 the way we are tidal islands

    joined for hours then inaccessible,

    Ill go for that, and smile when I

    pick sand off myself in the shower.

    The way I am an inland loch to you

    20 when a clatter of white whoops and rises...

  • Collection C

    It is the way Scotland looks to the South,

    the way we enter friends houses

    to leave what we came with, or fl ick

    the kettles switch and wait.

    25 This is where I want to live,

    close to where the heart gives out,

    ruined, perfected, an empty arch against the sky

    where birds fl y through instead of prayers

    while in Hoy Sound the ferns engines thrum

    30 this life this life this life.

    Andrew Greig


  • 54

    The Stone Hare

    Think of it waiting three hundred million years,

    not a hare hiding in the last stand of wheat,

    but a premonition of stone, a moonlit reef

    where corals reach for the light through clear

    5 waters of warm Palaeozoic seas.

    In its limbs lies the story of the earth,

    the living ocean, then the slow birth

    of limestone from the long trajectories

    of starfi sh, feather stars, crinoids and crushed shells

    10 that fi ll with calcite, harden, wait for the quarryman,

    the timed explosion and the sculptors hand.

    Then the hare, its eye a planet, springs from the chisel

    to stand in the grass, moonlights muscle and bone,

    the stems of sea lilies slowly turned to stone.

    Gillian Clarke

  • Collection D

    On the Life of Man 56Sir Walter Raleigh

    I Shall Paint My Nails Red 56Carole Satyamurti

    The Penelopes of my homeland 57Choman Hardi

    A Consumers Report 58Peter Porter

    Pessimism for Beginners 60Sophie Hannah

    Solitude 61Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    No Problem 62Benjamin Zephaniah

    Those bastards in their mansions 63Simon Armitage

    Living Space 64Imtiaz Dharker

    The archbishop chairs the fi rst session 65Ingrid de Kok

    The world is a beautiful place 66Lawrence Ferlinghetti

    Zero Hour 68Matthew Sweeney

    One World Down the Drain 69Simon Rae

    Do not go gentle into that good night 70Dylan Thomas

    Remember 71Christina Rossetti


  • 56

    I Shall Paint My Nails Red

    Because a bit of colour is a public service.

    Because I am proud of my hands.

    Because it will remind me Im a woman.

    Because I will look like a survivor.

    5 Because I can admire them in traffi c jams.

    Because my daughter will say ugh.

    Because my lover will be surprised.

    Because it is quicker than dyeing my hair.

    Because it is a ten-minute moratorium.

    10 Because it is reversible.

    Carole Satyamurti

    On the Life of Man

    What is our life? a play of passion,

    Our mirth the music of division,

    Our mothers wombs the tiring houses be,

    Where we are dressed for this short Comedy,

    5 Heaven the Judicious sharp spectator is,

    That sits and marks still who doth act amiss,

    Our graves that hide us from the searching Sun,

    Are like drawn curtains when the play is done,

    Thus march we playing to our latest rest,

    10 Only we die in earnest, thats no Jest.

    Sir Walter Raleigh

  • Collection D


    The Penelopes of my homeland (for the 50,000 widows of Anfal)

    Years and years of silent labour

    the Penelopes of my homeland

    wove their own and their childrens shrouds

    without a sign of Odysseus returning.

    5 Years and years of widowhood they lived

    without realising, without ever thinking

    that their dream was dead the day it was dreamt,

    that their colourful future was all in the past,

    that they had lived their destinies

    10 and there was nothing else to live through.

    Years and years of avoiding despair, not giving up,

    holding on to hopes raised by palm-readers,

    holding on to the wishful dreams of the nights

    and to the just God

    15 who does not allow such nightmares to continue.

    Years and years of raising more Penelopes and Odysseuses

    the waiting mothers of my homeland grew old and older

    without ever knowing that they were waiting,

    without ever knowing that they should stop waiting.

    20 Years and years of youth that was there and went unnoticed

    of passionate love that wasnt made

    of no knocking on the door after midnight

    returning from a very long journey.

    The Penelopes of my homeland died slowly

    25 carrying their dreams to their graves,

    leaving more Penelopes to take their place.

    Choman Hardi

  • 58

    The name of the product I tested is Life,

    I have completed the form you sent me

    and understand that my answers are confi dential.

    I had it as a gift,

    5 I didnt feel much while using it,

    in fact I think Id have liked to be more excited.

    It seemed gentle on the hands

    but left an embarrassing deposit behind.

    It was not economical

    10 and I have used much more than I thought

    (I suppose I have about half left

    but its diffi cult to tell)

    although the instructions are fairly large

    there are so many of them

    15 I dont know which to follow, especially

    as they seem to contradict each other.

    Im not sure such a thing

    should be put in the way of children

    Its diffi cult to think of a purpose

    20 for it. One of my friends says

    its just to keep its maker in a job.

    Also the price is much too high.

    Things are piling up so fast,

    after all, the world got by

    25 for a thousand million years

    without this, do we need it now?

    (Incidentally, please ask your man

    to stop calling me the respondent,

    I dont like the sound of it.)

    A Consumers Report

  • Collection D

    30 There seems to be a lot of different labels,

    sizes and colours should be uniform,

    the shape is awkward, its waterproof

    but not heat resistant, it doesnt keep

    yet its very diffi cult to get rid of:

    35 whenever they make it cheaper they seem

    to put less in if you say you dont

    want it, then its delivered anyway.

    Id agree its a popular product,

    its got into the language; people

    40 even say theyre on the side of it.

    Personally I think its overdone,

    a small thing people are ready

    to behave badly about. I think

    we should take it for granted. If its

    45 experts are called philosophers or market

    researchers or historians, we shouldnt

    care. We are the consumers and the last

    law makers. So fi nally, Id buy it.

    But the question of a best buy

    50 Id like to leave until I get

    the competitive product you said youd send.

    Peter Porter


  • 60

    Pessimism for Beginners

    When youre waiting for someone to e-mail,

    When youre waiting for someone to call

    Young or old, gay or straight, male or female

    Dont assume that theyre busy, thats all.

    5 Dont conclude that their letter went missing

    Or they must be away for a while;

    Think instead that theyre cursing and hissing

    Theyve decided youre venal and vile,

    That your eyes should be pecked by an eagle.

    10 Oh, to bash in your head with a stone!

    But since this is unfairly illegal

    Theyve no choice but to leave you alone.

    Be they friend, parent, sibling or lover

    Or your most stalwart colleague at work,

    15 Dont pursue them. Youll only discover

    That your once-irresistible quirk

    Is no longer appealing. Far from it.

    Everything that you are and you do

    Makes them spatter their basin with vomit.

    20 They loathe Hitler and herpes and you.

    Once you take this on board, life gets better.

    You give no one your hopes to destroy.

    The most cursory phone call or letter

    Makes you pickle your heart in pure joy.

    25 Its so different from what you expected!

    They do not want to gouge out your eyes!

    You feel neither abused nor rejected

    What a stunning and perfect surprise.

    This approach Im endorsing will net you

    30 A small portion of boundless delight.

    Keep believing the worlds out to get you.

    Now and then you might not be proved right.

    Sophie Hannah

  • Collection D



    Laugh, and the world laughs with you;

    Weep, and you weep alone;

    For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,

    But has trouble enough of its own.

    5 Sing, and the hills will answer;

    Sigh, it is lost in the air;

    The echoes bound to a joyful sound,

    But shrink from voicing care.

    Rejoice, and men will seek you;

    10 Grieve, and they turn and go;

    They want full measure of all your pleasure,

    But they do not need your woe.

    Be glad, and your friends are many;

    Be sad, and you lose them all,

    15 There are none to decline your nectared wine,

    But alone you must drink lifes gall.

    Feast, and your halls are crowded;

    Fast, and the world goes by.

    Succeed and give, and it helps you live,

    20 But no man can help you die.

    There is room in the halls of pleasure

    For a long and lordly train,

    But one by one we must all fi le on

    Through the narrow aisles of pain.

    Ella Wheeler Wilcox

  • 62

    No Problem

    I am not de problem

    But I bear de brunt

    Of silly playground taunts

    An racist stunts,

    5 I am not de problem

    I am born academic

    But dey got me on de run

    Now I am branded athletic

    I am not de problem

    10 If yu give I a chance

    I can teach yu of Timbuktu

    I can do more dan dance,

    I am not de problem

    I greet yu wid a smile

    15 Yu put me in a pigeon hole

    But I am versatile

    These conditions may affect me

    As I get older,

    An I am positively sure

    20 I have no chips on me shoulders,

    Black is not de problem

    Mother country get it right

    An juss fe de record,

    Sum of me best friends are white.

    Benjamin Zephaniah

  • Collection D


    Those bastards in their mansions

    Simon Armitage

    This poem is not available in this online version.

  • 64

    Living Space

    There are just not enough

    straight lines. That

    is the problem.

    Nothing is fl at

    5 or parallel. Beams

    balance crookedly on supports

    thrust off the vertical.

    Nails clutch at open seams.

    The whole structure leans dangerously

    10 towards the miraculous.

    Into this rough frame,

    someone has squeezed

    a living space

    and even dared to place

    15 these eggs in a wire basket,

    fragile curves of white

    hung out over the dark edge

    of a slanted universe,

    gathering the light

    20 into themselves,

    as if they were

    the bright, thin walls of faith.

    Imtiaz Dharker

  • Collection D


    The archbishop chairs the fi rst session

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

    April 1996. East London, South Africa

    On the fi rst day

    after a few hours of testimony

    the Archbishop wept.

    He put his grey head

    5 on the long table

    of papers and protocols

    and he wept.

    The national

    and international cameramen

    10 fi lmed his weeping,

    his misted glasses,

    his sobbing shoulders,

    the call for a recess.

    It doesnt matter what you thought

    15 of the Archbishop before or after,

    of the settlement, the commission,

    or what the anthropologists fl ying in

    from less studied crimes and sorrows

    said about the discourse,

    20 or how many doctorates,

    books, and installations followed,

    or even if you think this poem

    simplifi es, lionizes

    romanticizes, mystifi es.

    25 There was a long table, starched purple vestment

    and after a few hours of testimony,

    the Archbishop, chair of the commission,

    lay down his head, and wept.

    Thats how it began.

    Ingrid de Kok

  • 66

    The world is a beautiful place

    The world is a beautiful place to be born intoif you dont mind happiness not always being so very much fun if you dont mind a touch of hell now and then just when everything is fi ne because even in heaven they dont sing all the time

    The world is a beautiful place to be born intoif you dont mind some people dying all the time or maybe only starving some of the time which isnt half so bad if it isnt you

    Oh the world is a beautiful place to be born into if you dont much mind a few dead minds in the higher places or a bomb or two now and then in your upturned faces or such other improprieties as our Name Brand society is prey to with its men of distinction and its men of extinction and its priests and other patrolmen and its various segregations and congressional investigations and other constipations that our fool fl esh is heir to








  • Collection D







    Yes the world is the best place of all for a lot of such things as making the fun scene and making the love sceneand making the sad scene and singing low songs and having inspirations and walking around looking at everything and smelling fl owers and goosing statues and even thinking and kissing people and making babies and wearing pants and waving hats and dancing and going swimming in rivers on picnics in the middle of the summer and just generally living it up Yes but then right in the middle of it comes the smiling


    Lawrence Ferlinghetti


  • 68

    Zero Hour

    Tomorrow all the trains will stop

    and we will be stranded. Cars

    have already been immobilised

    by the petrol wars, and sit

    5 abandoned, along the roadsides.

    The airports, for two days now,

    are closed-off zones where dogs

    congregate loudly on the runways.

    To be in possession of a bicycle

    10 is to risk your life. My neighbour,

    a doctor, has somehow acquired a horse

    and rides to his practice, a rifl e

    clearly visible beneath the reins,

    I sit in front of the television

    15 for each successive news bulletin

    then reach for the whisky bottle.

    How long before the shelves are empty

    in the supermarkets? The fi rst riots

    are raging as I write, and who

    20 out there could have predicted

    this sudden countdown to zero hour,

    all the paraphernalia of our comfort

    stamped obsolete, our memories

    fi ghting to keep us sane and upright?

    Matthew Sweeney

  • 69

    One World Down the Drain

    One World Week focused on global warming, with a UN report promising

    the direst consequences from the greenhouse effect. However, in the clash

    between long-term and short-term interests, the future looks likely to be

    the loser.

    [26 May 1990]

    Its goodbye half of Egypt,

    The Maldives take a dive,

    And not much more of Bangladesh

    Looks likely to survive.

    5 Europe too will alter,

    Book fl ights to Venice now.

    It wont be there in fi fty years

    Great City. Pity. Ciao.

    But we dont care,

    10 We wont be there,

    Our acid greenhouse party

    Will carry on

    Until were gone,

    So bad luck Kiribati

    15 And all the other atolls

    That sink beneath the seas,

    The millions who will suffer from

    Drought, famine and disease.

    The weather map is changing

    20 But what are we to do?

    Lets have another conference on

    The ills of CO2.

    Oh global warming

    s habit-forming,

    25 But do not rock the boat;

    Were doing our best,

    Although were pressed

    (The future has no vote).

    Simon Rae

    One World Down the Drain

    Collection D

  • 70

    Do not go gentle into that good night

    Do not go gentle into that good night,

    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

    5 Because their words had forked no lightning they

    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    10 Wild men who caught and sang the sun in fl ight,

    And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

    Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

    15 Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    And you, my father, there on the sad height,

    Curse, bless, me now with your fi erce tears, I pray.

    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Dylan Thomas

  • Collection D



    Remember me when I am gone away,

    Gone far away into the silent land;

    When you can no more hold me by the hand,

    Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.

    5 Remember me when no more day by day

    You tell me of our future that you planned:

    Only remember me; you understand

    It will be late to counsel then or pray.

    Yet if you should forget me for a while

    10 And afterwards remember, do not grieve:

    For if the darkness and corruption leave

    A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,

    Better by far you should forget and smile

    Than that you should remember and be sad.

    Christina Rossetti

  • 72

    AcknowledgementsWe are grateful to the following for permission to reproduce copyright material:Poetry on page 2 from Mean Time, Anvil Press Poetry (Duffy, C. A. 1993), Valentine is taken from Mean Time by Carol Ann Duffy published by Anvil Press Poetry in 1993; Poetry on page 3 and page 60 from Pessimism for Beginners, Carcanet (Hannah, S. 2007), Carcanet Press Limited; Poetry on page 6 from Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Woman (Nichols, G. 1989), Copyright (c) Grace Nichols 1989 reproduced with permission of Curtis Brown Group Ltd; Poetry on page 7 from Poems 1960-2000, Bloodaxe Books (Adcock, F. 2000); Poetry on page 8 from New Collected Poems, Carcanet (Jennings, E.), David Higham Associates; Poetry on page 9 from The Mersey Sound, Penguin Classics (Patten, B. 2007) p. 91, Copyright (c) Brian Patten. Reproduced by permission of the author c/o Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd., 20 Powis Mews, London W11 1JN; Poetry on page 12 from Selected Poems, 1st Edition, HarperCollins (Edna St. Vincent Millay 1991), Copyright (c) 1923, 1951, by Edna St. Vincent Millay and Norma Millay Ellis. Reprinted by permission of Elizabeth Barnett, Literary Executor, The Millay Society; Poetry on page 13 from Five Fields, Carcanet (Clarke, G. 1998), Carcanet Press Limited; Poetry on page 14 Nettles written by Vernon Scannell from The Very Best of Vernon Scannell, Macmillan Childrens Books (Scannell, V. 2001), Copyright 2001 Macmillan Publishers Ltd., London, UK; Poetry on page 15, page 36, page 42 and page 57 from Life for Us, Bloodaxe Books (Hardi, C. 2004); Poetry on page 16 from Selected Poems and Collected Poems, Penguin (Harrison, T. 1987/2007), by kind permission of the author, Tony Harrison; Poetry on page 18 from Taking Myself Home, John Murray (McMillan, I. 2008), Copyright Ian McMillan; Poetry on page 20 from Half-Caste and Other Poems, Hodder Childrens Books (Agard, J. 2005), Half-Caste copyright 1996 by John Agard reproduced by kind permission of John Agard c/o Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency Limited; Poetry on page 21 and page 44 from Look We Have Coming to Dover!, Faber and Faber Ltd. (Nagra, D. 2007); Poetry on page 22, Belfast Confetti by Ciaran Carson, with permission from Wake Forest University Press and by kind permission of the author and The Gallery Press, Loughcrew, Oldcastle, County Meath, Ireland, from Collected Poems (2008); Poetry on page 23 from No Sweetness Here, Feminist Press (de Kok, I. 1995) Ingrid de Kok; Poetry on page 26 from Collected Poems, Carcanet (Clarke, G. 2007), Carcanet Press Limited; Poetry on page 27 from Leaving and Leaving You, Carcanet (Hannah, S. 1999), Carcanet Press Limited; Poetry on page 30 and page 63 from Book of Matches, Faber and Faber Ltd. (Armitage, S. 1993); Poetry on page 32 O What is that Sound, copyright 1937 and renewed 1965 by W. H. Auden, from Collected Poems by W. H. Auden. Used by permission of Random House, Inc. and Faber and Faber Ltd., Copyright 1934 by W. H. Auden. Reprinted by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd; Poetry on page 34, Conscientious Objector by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Copyright (c) 1934, 1962, by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Reprinted by permission of Elizabeth Barnett, Literary Executor, The Millay Society; Poetry on page 35, August 6, 1945 by Alison Fell, (c) Alison Fell 1987. First published in Kisses for Mayakovsky (Virago). Republished in Dreams Like Heretics (Serpents Tail). Permission granted by Peake Associates,; Poetry on page 40 from Hotels Like Houses, Carcanet (Hannah, S. 1996) p. 47, Carcanet Press Limited; Poetry on page 41 from The Fat Black Womens Poetry, Virago (Nichols, G. 1984), Copyright (c) Grace Nichols 1984 reproduced with permission of Curtis Brown Ltd; Poetry on page 43 from Seasonal Fires, Seven Stories Press (de Kok, I. 2006) Ingrid de Kok; Poetry on page 47, A Major Road for Romney Marsh by U. A. Fanthorpe from Collected Poems 1978-2003, Peterloo Poets, Dr. R. V. Bailey; Poetry on page 51 from Letting Light In, Essence Press (Haggith, M. 2005), Mandy Haggith; Poetry on page 52 from This Life, This Life: Selected Poems 1970-2006, Bloodaxe Books (Grieg, A. 2006); Poetry on page 54 from Making the Beds for the Dead, Carcanet (Clarke, G. 2004), Carcanet Press Limited; Poetry on page 56 from Stitching in the Dark: New and Selected Poems, Bloodaxe Books (Satyamurti, C. 2005); Poetry on page 58, A Consumers Report by Peter Porter, reproduced by kind permission of the author; Poetry on page 62 from Propa Propaganda, Bloodaxe Books (Zephaniah, B. 1996), with permission from Bloodaxe Books and Benjamin Zephaniah; Poetry on page 64 from Postcards from god, Bloodaxe Books (Dharker, I. 1997); Poetry on page 65 from Terrestrial Things, Kwela Books, Snailpress (de Kok, I.), Ingrid de Kok; Poetry on page 66 from Pictures of the Gone World, 2nd Edition, City Lights Books (Ferlinghetti, L. 1986), (c) 1955 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti; Poetry on page 68 from Sanctuary, Jonathan Cape (Sweeney, M. 2004), Zero Hour from Sanctuary by Matthew Sweeney, published by Jonathan Cape. Reprinted by permission of The Random House Group Ltd; Poetry on page 69 from Earth Shattering Eco Poems, Bloodaxe (Astley, N. ed. 2004), One world down the drain by Simon Rae, with the authors permission; Poetry on page 70 Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas, from The Poems of Dylan Thomas, copyright 1952 by Dylan Thomas. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp. and The Poems, J. M. Dent (Thomas, D.), David Higham Associates.

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