A.E. Stallings

A.E. Stallings is the Oxford Professor of Poetry elect. This Afterlife: Selected Poems was published by Carcanet in December 2022.

Poem: ‘The Golden Shrug’

A.E. Stallings, 16 November 2023

(after visiting The World of Stonehenge at the British Museum)

For Ange Mlinko

When did museums devolve to the didacticSpelling out our wonder? Not enoughTo show us something wonderful – the tacticIs multimedia to smooth the roughEdges of the imagination – ‘thwacks’Piped in to whet the silence of an axe,

Or see: those skeletons of ponderous oxenSacrificed still...

Poem: ‘Snowdrops’

A.E. Stallings, 18 May 2023

Graveyard of St Peter-in-the-East, St Edmund Hall

For E.M.

Snowdrop, snowdrop, tell:what news of the underground,the weather in Hell?

Your toes are tickledby the beards of the dead, theirslanted stones deckled

and foxed with lichen-rings of shaggy galaxies.In flocks you beckon

me to read shallow-graven names on time-thumbed tomes.Soon you’ll sallow, snow-

drop: now so new, yetyour hair’s...

From The Blog
29 March 2023

The old road from Athens to Elefsina – the modern name for Eleusis – is still called the Sacred Way, though there is also a modern highway that does the trick. In ancient times, the initiated, or those wanting to become initiated, would travel the ten-odd miles from Athens to experience the ‘Eleusinian Mysteries’.

From The Blog
13 January 2023

There’s a term in Greek for a spell of fine weather in the middle of winter, the halcyon days (alkyonides meres), after the kingfisher, which, according to legend, must nest and raise its brood floating on calm waters. These days tend to occur for a week or two from mid-January, but can start any time from the solstice through to 15 February. Perhaps for that reason, the exceptionally mild weather over the twelve days of Christmas did not call forth the same climate anxiety as, for instance, the heat waves of the summer, and the ever worsening and elongating fire season. It’s just the halcyon days, we tell ourselves, and marvel at the blue skies and soft spring-like air.

Two Poems

A.E. Stallings, 1 December 2022

Crows in the Wind

Hooded Crow: Corvus cornix

On windy days the crows cavortDown slides of air for autumn sport.They dive and spiral, twirl and spin,Then levitate to ride again.

That wind that makes their airy slideComes tumbling down the mountainside,Tousles the heads of trees and dropsTo the sea beyond the cypress tops,

And drinking at the sea’s blue lipsMakes paper sailboats out of...

Much of A.E. Stallings’s work can seem like light verse that suddenly appals: solid, foundational stanzas that chat directly with you, distracting you from the fact that you’re perched with her, Humpty...

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