Peter Porter

Peter Porter’s collection Dragons in Their Pleasant Palaces came out in 1997.

(A version of Schubert’s ‘Klage an das Volk’)

Youth of our Days, gone like the Days of our Youth! The People’s strength, unnumbered impotence, The Crowd’s gross pressure without consequence, The Insignificant our only glimpse of Truth!

The Power I wield springs always from my Pain, That remnant of a preternatural striving. I cannot act, and Time with its...

Two Poems

Peter Porter, 12 January 1995

About Auden’s Juvenilia

He knew he would be great   And told his tutor so But lots of second-rate   Ramshackle lines ‘to go’ Like pizzas on a plate   He ordered up: we know His Hardy phase, his Yeats.

But as we sort out from   The country metaphors (That almanac birdsong,   Those Edward Thomas spores) The few bits which...

They knew they were some kind of a solution But wouldn’t risk their legendary horses, Battle wagons: they’d read about pollution, High-rise slums and poisoned watercourses.

To keep their army healthy they ran races On plains and let our cameramen record them – Nightly the same professional drained faces Fronted clips on TV and deplored them.

Their Great Khan broadcast from...

Poem: ‘Serious Drinking’

Peter Porter, 27 October 1988

It comes from wanting to be perfect. All human pain from spite to rape Is just a reading on the grape And all these living counterfeits Are for philosophers’ defeats. A discontent so undivine Moves water one notch up to wine. Put it away, here comes the prefect.

The sinner is paid in his own coin. Blood is love’s apotheosis And brings the liver to cirrhosis, The flowers of sleep...

Two Poems

Peter Porter, 9 July 1987

The Story of U

And now the track is snowed with words, The poor train of childhood followed, A good aunt picking out the thirds On an old piano, gutted, hollowed By years which left the trees the same Adding one storey to the house In others’ hands – and can you claim That here sex showed you her old powers?

The little ghosts which charmingly In gentle masochism shone Grew up and...

Bad Dreams: Peter Porter

Robert Crawford, 6 October 2011

One of the greatest elegies of the 20th century was written in a flat-roofed Australian beach house beside scribbly-gums and banksias in 1975. The poem and the circumstances out of which it grew...

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Davie’s Rap

Neil Corcoran, 25 January 1990

One of the finest things in Donald Davie’s Under Briggflatts is a sustained, learned and densely implicative comparison of two poems about horses: Edwin Muir’s well-known,...

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Callaloo

Robert Crawford, 20 April 1989

‘Where do you come from?’ asks one of the most important questions in contemporary poetry – where’s home? Answering the pulls and torsions of that question produces much...

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Every three years

Blake Morrison, 3 March 1988

Now that poetry has been brought into the marketplace, and publishers have discovered how to make a modest profit from it, and now that publication outlets can be found in any good-sized store,...

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Players, please

Jonathan Bate, 6 December 1984

The Great War was the war of the great war poets. Was ‘the war to end all wars’ also the war to end all war poetry? The best part of Jon Stallworthy’s introduction to his Oxford...

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Subjects

Craig Raine, 6 October 1983

My subject-matter is subject-matter. Is it true, as it sometimes seems, that certain subjects are inevitably more interesting than others, however much we may protest that they are merely...

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Moving Pictures

Claude Rawson, 16 July 1981

Peter Porter’s imagination tends towards the epigram, but not quite in the popular sense which suggests brief, pithy encapsulations of wit or wisdom: Believe me, Flaccus, the epigram is...

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