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James Michie

James Michie is a translator of Horace and a publisher with Bodley Head.

Poem: ‘Bath Death’

James Michie, 6 December 1990

Five foot eleven, twelve stone, sixty-three, I lie in the bath and look at the apple-tree And the apples dawdling into rubicundity

To blend with the old brick wall’s well-weathered red. Already, and all ready, I feel dead: The tub, no longer a limp invalid’s warm bed,

Is a dank coffin, my flesh wrinkled fruit For the birds, who pretend to be irresolute But eviscerate like...

Poem: ‘Romantic Experiment’

James Michie, 17 June 1982

In the slovenly laboratory we call Society sometimes a poet will crawl – Great big unsupervised baby – up the wall And from a bottle on the topmost shelf Marked Danger, Do Not Touch, or Self, Swallow, and in the slow paralysis And death that follow scrawl In blood, vomit or piss: ‘God damn you all, God bless you too – but don’t drink this.’

Poem: ‘Observation’

James Michie, 3 September 1981

Walking to our respective graves In superb weather, I trailed a young duke across Green Park. The trousers made some difference. All the same,

The conclusion to which I came Was either rich or stark: By the way his hands were locked together I knew we were both slaves.

Poem: ‘Frosty Poem’

James Michie, 7 August 1980

In New York City I wasn’t told That mid-May nights in Vermont can be cold. Outside, our brook, short of sun And wind, barely keeps up a run, Just jogs and limps so as not to freeze; Flexing her black tender knees, The mare between the moon and the gate Crops fiercely as if she couldn’t wait For the calories to turn to heating, And is blindly warming herself by eating; Overhead,...

Making sense

Denis Donoghue, 4 October 1984

In ‘A Wave’, the title-poem of his new collection, John Ashbery says, among many other things: One idea is enough to organise a life and project it Into unusual but viable forms, but...

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