Alistair Elliot

Alistair Elliot, who died in 2018, published several collections of poems as well as translations of Valéry, Verlaine and Euripides’ Medea.

Poem: ‘Slugs’

Alistair Elliot, 3 April 1997

They used to come out at night and leave on the hairy carpet a diagram of their moves, dance-steps, perhaps loves – like a record of the moon’s light peeled off the sea, to frame in the honeymoon album.

One gastropod put its foot by mistake on the Welcome mat, such painful terrain to cross it was still there at sunrise like a long turd, the fruit of some wall-passing intruder who...

Poem: ‘Auks in the Minch’

Alistair Elliot, 5 September 1996

The green and purple bergs of Scotland melt so slowly the millennia seem equal: on such a day Columba could have paddled      here in his coracle.

In such light airs you approach the razorbills on breaths of silence, till they patter away or plunge abruptly at the flap of sails –     as if they couldn’t fly.

Perhaps they can’t, in...

Two Poems

Alistair Elliot, 14 December 1995


The three letters of his name suddenly resurrect him, lounging on some horizon, much like the long corpse of Christ in Michelangelo’s Deposition.

There was something ideal about him: the naked male of Greek stone, the Amazon man about the jungle, face and body matched, lone playboy in the sun –

Ned in his Jantzen swimwear was spear-carrier as star. He could speak, though. The...

Two Poems

Alistair Elliot, 3 August 1995

A Family Wireless

You switch it on, pour out a cup of tea, drink it, and finally sounds of outer space clearing its throat blow from the vizored face; pause; then the swelling voice of history refills our kitchen from the B.B.C.

It’s full of static and authority. I daren’t re-tune it: set before the war on Home, it doesn’t know it’s Radio Four. It never knew the Third, or...

Poem: ‘Watches’

Alistair Elliot, 18 August 1994

I wear my father’s last but one wristwatch, having broken my own. Its crazed face, its wild cricketer’s strap always slipping off, its inability to keep up with the regular and not excessive

marching speed of the universe explain his buying one of those self-winders: he was a busy man and couldn’t afford the soft unclear evaporation of minutes, a day or two a year.

The busy...

Puck’s Dream

Mark Ford, 14 June 1990

D.J. Enright recently celebrated his 70th birthday. In commemoration, Oxford University Press have prepared a rather lean Selected Poems, and a volume of personal reminiscences and critical...

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