Monday, August 4, 2014

In Praise of Air

Spotted on the side of a building at Sheffield University, this poem, In Praise of Air, by Simon Armitage

Friday, February 7, 2014

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Riding Man

The picture is
Of a young man, attempting
To ride a horse.
His pose is strained, half
Crouched in the saddle, painfully
Aware of being observed.
I am told, by those
That should know, that
This is me at twenty-three.
But since then every
Cell in this fragile human
Form has been altered by
Nature's alchemy.
And if the self is an
Emergent property of time
And 'I' am only 'I' through the
Chance concatenations of
Fitful experience, then between
The one who rides and the
One who turns the paper
In transient hands, there
Is a great gulf fixed which
Cannot be made up by
Memory, story spinning or
Unwitting invention.
When one idol falls, another
Irresistibly rises in its place.
Some new stranger may yet
Remark on this dying moment
Who shares my face.

Simon Peter Iredale
Copyright: Simon Peter Iredale

Last poem by this writer

Auden on time and age

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant enchanted slope
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope;
While an abstract insight wakes
Among the glaciers and the rocks
The hermit's carnal ecstasy.

Certainty, fidelity
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell,
And fashionable madmen raise
Their pedantic boring cry:
Every farthing of the cost,
All the dreaded cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.

Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of welcome show
Eye and knocking heart may bless,
Find the mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness find you fed
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.
WH Auden

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Coming up...

Coming up... two poems on the theme of life, time, ageing, who we are old, one new. You'll just have to read the poems

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A 30th Birthday Poem

Dylan Thomas's A Poem In October, written for his 30th birthday, 1944

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Rock poetry

Among all rock groups, the Moody Blues regarded themselves as poets. The band's spin off group, the Blue Jays had a similar approach to writing.

I Dreamed Last Night is a fine example of their writing and has superb lyrical composition - but does it stand as a poem? As a song it appeals to universal themes of longing and lost love - but is the writer telling his own story or is it merely a collection of disjoined thoughts and convenient rhymes?

Oh I dreamed last night I was hearing, hearing your voice
and the things that you said well they left me, left me no choice
And you told me we had the power
And you told me this was the hour
that you don't know how
if I could show you now

 Well I dreamed last night you were calling, calling my name
You were locked inside of your secrets,
calling my name 
And you told me lost was the key 
And you told me how you long to be free, 
that you don't know how 
Oh let me show you now

 Like a bird on a far distant mountain, 
                like a ship on an uncharted sea,
you are lost in the arms that have found you
 Don't be afraid, 
love's plans are made 
Oh don't be afraid 

 If there's a time and a place to begin love
 It must be now
 Let it go
 Set it free 

Oh I dreamed last night I was hearing, hearing your voice.
Why did you say those things that have left me, 
        left me no choice?
When you told me we had the power 
why did you tell me now was the hour? 
But you don't know how 
Oh let me show you now 

 Like a bird on a far distant mountain,
               like a ship on an uncharted sea, 
you are lost in the arms that have found you 
Oh don't be afraid 
Love's plans are made 
Don't be afraid

 If there's a time and a place to begin love
 It must be now 
Let it go
 Set it free 

Oh I dreamed last night I was hearing, hearing your voice

Monday, May 21, 2012

Radiance Festival

On Saturday - May 26th - members of The Five will be reading at the Radiance Festival at St Matthew's Church, Church Hill, Walsall, UK. WS1 3DG

Radiance is described as a Christian Spirituality Fair. Admission is £5 for the day, running from 10am to 3.30pm.

Chris Warren, Colin Gibson and Simon Iredale, of The Five, are scheduled to read at 11.45am.

Chris Warren will also be leading a workshop on "poetry and prayer" during the day.

The Five first wrote and read together as students in 1977 and reconvened five years ago. Their latest anthology is Five Squared.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The music-makers

We are the music-makers
  And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
  And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
  On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
  Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world's great cities,
  And out of a fabulous story
  We fashion an empire's glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
  Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
  Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
  In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
  And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o'erthrew them with prophesying,
  To the old of the new world's worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
  Or one that is coming to birth.

Arthur O’Shaughnessy 1844-1881

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lyric festival

Check out the Sheffield Lyric Festival:
"Now in its second year, Lyric is Sheffield's only festival of poetry, music and the spoken word and will take place from Wednesday 9 May to Friday 11 May 2012 at the University of Sheffield."
It is organised by poet Simon Armitage, professor of poetry in Sheffield.

More details here:

Friday, February 17, 2012

Poems to make you think

Here is a collection of thought-provoking videos of poetry and lyrics. There's a great Dylan song and some up-dated material that's already been on this site. These are poets thinking about life, the universe and everything. Any ideas for additions welcome.

 Full listing:

  • Spring - The Innocence Mission
  • Stephen Lovatt - title unknown
  • Gates of Eden - Bob Dylan
  • On Burnham Beach - Tom Rudge
  • Dover Beach - Matthew Arnold
  • Always Making Things - Stewart Henderson
  • Heaven Haven - Gerard Manley Hopkins, music versions by Caedmon and the Innocence Mission

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New anthology

There's now an anthology of new poems out by The Five, the group of poets who have contributed many of the poems on this site. In the past we've promoted live readings by the group. There are going to be more this year.

They first published together in the late 1970s and appeared with a band called Candle Factory, whose single album, Nightshift, now fetches largish sums on e-bay. They published a slim anthology then - and many years later, this is their second collection  after "five life-times of beach-combing, of spiritual highs and lows, of taking less-travelled paths".

The new book Five Squared, edited by Simon Peter Iredale, is available from for £12.50 It has 25 poems. One or two have appeared here - but most have not.

The five are Max Butcher, Colin GibsonSimon Peter IredaleTom Rudge and Chris Warren.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas morning

Curled together
on Christmas morning
we're the comma
in the year
an apostrophe
of mutual possession
a quote mark that says
the conversation is ended
and is beginning anew

Tom Rudge, Christmas 2011
Copyright: By application

Last by this writer

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Suggest a Dylan lyric..

I've been trying to find an appropriate Bob Dylan lyric - words that stand out on the page as a poem in their own right. Dylan is meant to be the great lyricist, the contemporary song writer about whom dissertations have been written. Indeed sometimes he wrote poetry without songs - although unlike Leonard Cohen he was not a poet first and foremost. I confess - I have found the search difficult.

Any suggestions?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Galactic Lovepoem

Some video has emerged on Youtube of Adrian Henri and Liverpool Scene (a rock poetry band) performing live. This is Galactic Lovepoem

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Look out for Spring,
the life underground,
the life underground.
The thawing and the overflow.
Oh early, early in the morning
we’ll go.

Seven shades of green
are painted on your door,
painted on your door,
the field alive under the snow.
Oh early, early in the morning.
we’ll go.

Oh world of rooftops,
hearing one field song.
The walk in raincoats,
the wait for Easter, Tom.
We are awake or waking,
awake or waking from.
Here that day comes.

The Innocence Mission 
from the album my room in the trees

Copyright: The Innocence Mission
Reproduced with permission

Last lyric by this artist

Listen here:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Park and ride

Riding the Metropolitan
Railway I think of Betjeman
rhapsodist of suburban dreams
where golden ochred autumn trees
decorate fading maisonettes
Here I'm a ghost whose journey's past
parallel lives I might have chanced
hanging, like prunes, from every branch
Hillingdon, Northwood, Amersham,
emptied now of aunts, friends, gran,
echo with part-remembered plans

Past Harrow, men play ball on a field
a wasteland has brambles and a horse
near Ickenham an old house in a park
a crumbling Middle Saxon manor
then a station amid half-timbered

here sounds the motorway's call

Tom Rudge, Devon
Copyright: By application

Last poem by this writer

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Waiting Room

This is where you come, nursing
your dearest fears.
Those that, once on a time, in
the country of the healthy, you
would have dismissed with a smile
turning to your latest love.
Yet, like an animal that follows you
home, they wheedled their way
into your sick affection.
Now, casting their speckled
skin they are revealed
for what they are – loathsome,
predatory, implacable - the
many faces of hurt.
Patient and passive, our
lives in parenthesis, we wait
for someone to call our name.
Though we sit side by
side, we are not companions, each
languishes in their own solitude,
our eyes do not meet.
No one’s file of words bears
exactly the same judgment, illness
is as distinctive as a laugh.
We shall return here like sad
comets every three months, until
some vagary of gravity spins
us off, out, onto a path for which
there is no return.

Simon Peter Iredale