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White Midas

Peter Redgrove, 6 July 1989

... It is the Pope, the veritable white Polish Pope, The Pope who has been a poet, the published Pope, He who kisses the soil, and accordingly Worships a Black Virgin, now like a Christ-child He has re-arrived, in a cradle, a deep wicker, And it has a glow of dayspring gold, an aura, As though he were frying delighted in pure oil: He was vibrating gold and this was his atmosphere, And I? I was tending him Like a secret ornament ...


Peter Redgrove, 24 January 1985

... The strange unpasteurised heights, And that excellent suntanned all-copper Waterworks sticker mechanism With plastic ballcocks sucking at them And snowflake zinc tanks sunk high Into the arteries of a cloud-mountain Of circulating ocean. We empty the system and venture With flaming torches into the mains, Into the conduits maned with weed That falls about our heads uncombed, which lead Along strait routes to a booming cistern blown In a domed cadenza of ancient bricks ...

Model Railway Club, Staines

Peter Redgrove, 7 March 1985

... Hobbyists by the river Under the cold hairy willows, In peaked caps and faded railway overalls And astride saddle-sized model trains, Chug under bare willow wickerwork gilded by winter sun Puffing more white steam than their crib-sized engines. Even the dog-shit is happy among these frosty hobbyists, Lying down as is its wont Like shed pelt of a ginger kind Tightly wound like secretive baskets Or submitting cleated to our boots ...

City of Boys

Peter Redgrove, 18 August 1983

... Who was cast out of heaven But is alive in me. A certain Ghost dangles foaming in his jaw. My tongue licks my palate And the big shed of my jaws Distils. The head of beer Pocked like the Moon in craters Alive in me. In this city of boys A million open collars of beer The fizz hanging in the throat Like a gossamer in a well, The moon going down In black tides, the spirit Distilling in the dark retorts Coiling behind flat waistbands, Distilling through the brains Then leaving them limp Like a dangling ghost, Then back to the homes The heads parade, take off In sleep like wings, awake To the resonant crystal The TV chamber which is square, The prisoner of light therein, And the smell of disapproval Over her entire skin like a low lawn ...

The Night-Chandlers

Peter Redgrove, 1 August 1985

... I A double fugue for wings The phallaina, the moth The Winged Wurm, And the harbour lights Snaking in their busy sleep In the nesting water. And in the dark of morning The spirit-candles passing over the water, The night-chandlers on their way to work, Fitting and outfitting, the wharfingers. I touch that Self in her skin. The water-rictus of the dawn ice That just touches the shores ...

Two Poems

Peter Redgrove, 3 February 1983

... Hall of Clothes and Circuses I The rich seaside stones turn to cloth at a word, To magnificent garments, the tweeds of the granite, Felspar woven with mica and buttons of quartz. The whole earth at a word is a magnificent garment Which the Lord wears, A magnificence sewn for him by his Mother, The smooth sleeves of wet slate, the sewn pearls of barnacles, A dressing-gown of sliding sand, a nightdress of mud With snailtrack stitching, pyjamas of glittering silica, A shirt of schists, the cricketer’s white of china-clay, And the sea winking, and the waves leaping Over and over each other in the tidal circus, The little snapping white horses, And the green horses racing in the oaks ...

The Offices in the Old Baths

Peter Redgrove, 17 November 1983

... for Peter Porter) I The maroon-hued slugs swallow the garden down. Out at sea the ships on fire with light Like burning soldiers drawn up on parade. I switch on the electric light; It is a furnace in a vase. Then the maroon that slaps the night: The lifeboat is out, One of those lighted ships is toiling With some current like a great maroon dragon; Let its stacked lights not be quenched ...
... In memoriam H.S. It is sweet and decorous To light the fire in the hearth and dream Of the death of poets. The boulders Follow him, scoring huge trenches To where he sits on a hill, letting the wind Play his lyre; it was Aeolus who played it And Orpheus fitted words to the improvised music, As I do now, to the jumping figures in the fire That rends and heals, my spliff Balsamic among the books Which wear their animal skins, calves That have followed the music of the books To my pungent study ...

Three Poems

Peter Redgrove, 17 June 1982

... In Lincoln Museum The rock-tree underground Moving its boughs slowly, The sky-blue flintfruits Rising in the soil Gradually like sealed firmaments; Knapped open they show Blue and cloudy white; Or like bubbles of the oozy bedrock, Like sky-blue apples falling upwards Very slowly. The hollow blue-black Underground tree of the mine, The thick orchards of the mines Berried with flints, and these blue fruits Are full of stars, their darkness When struck is full of stars, a sneeze Of stars, like the grindstone At the cottage door sparking in the twilight ...

Two Poems

Peter Redgrove, 19 July 1984

... The Party in the Woods I Each fly a little Isis, A transformer, buzzing; The trees worried by their wolf, The wind. The spring of water, An almost silent work, continuing Under the threshold of sleep. The little rivers of gnats. II The boy showed us a pleasant trick, Taking his penny-whistle to the gnatswarm, Which widened to the low notes like the outline Of a Russian doll that can never be Overturned completely, and stretched up, Whirling faster, like a skinny spindle To the high scales, and with the music The sunshine shone through every small Illuminated body ...


Roger Garfitt, 20 March 1980

The Weddings at Nether Powers 
by Peter Redgrove.
Routledge, 166 pp., £2.95, July 1979, 0 7100 0255 6
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... could be turned in his clay to the bung in a wine barrel. It is a trope that recurs repeatedly in Peter Redgrove’s recent work, You take turns to be food, Before you can grind wheat you have to be wheat, Before you can eat bread you are a nice new crust Eaten by Mary, who chooses a crust-you here, A mouthful of Shakespeare’s breath there, a glass Of ...

Escaped from the Lab

Robert Crawford: Peter Redgrove, 21 June 2012

A Lucid Dreamer: The Life of Peter Redgrove 
by Neil Roberts.
Cape, 341 pp., £30, January 2012, 978 0 224 09029 2
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Collected Poems 
by Peter Redgrove, edited by Neil Roberts.
Cape, 496 pp., £25, January 2012, 978 0 224 09027 8
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... Peter Redgrove had a secret. It was called ‘the Game’. Sexual in nature, this obsessive ritual ignited some of his most arresting poetry, and was vital to his personal mythology for sixty years. Known only to his lovers and a few in his inner circle, the Game has now been made public in Neil Roberts’s remarkable biography of the poet, published almost a decade after Redgrove’s death, along with a new Collected Poems ...

What the doctor said

Edna Longley, 22 March 1990

A New Path to the Waterfall 
by Raymond Carver.
Collins Harvill, 158 pp., £11, September 1989, 0 00 271043 9
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by Ted Hughes.
Faber, 55 pp., £8.99, September 1989, 0 571 14167 6
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Poems 1954-1987 
by Peter Redgrove.
Penguin, 228 pp., £5.99, August 1989, 0 14 058641 5
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The First Earthquake 
by Peter Redgrove.
Secker, 76 pp., £7.50, August 1989, 0 436 41006 0
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Mount Eagle 
by John Montague.
Bloodaxe, 75 pp., £12.95, June 1989, 1 85224 090 3
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The Wreck of the Archangel 
by George Mackay Brown.
Murray, 116 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 7195 4750 4
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The Perfect Man 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Abacus, 96 pp., £3.99, November 1989, 0 349 10122 1
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... poem. If these are dodged, a totalising vision and vocabulary may take over. Like Hughes, Peter Redgrove has developed a brand of ready-mix poetic utterance. Poems 1954-1987, now out in paperback, leaves a homogenised taste of apples, dew, leaves, clouds, mists, spiders, ‘juices and saps’. However, it accords with ...


Christopher Reid, 15 May 1980

by Octavio Paz, Jacques Roubaud, Edoardo Sanguineti and Charles Tomlinson.
Penguin, 95 pp., £1.95, November 1979, 0 14 042268 4
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Kites in Spring 
by John Hewitt.
Blackstaff, 63 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 0 85640 206 0
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The Island Normal 
by Brian Jones.
Carcanet, 91 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 9780856353406
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New Poetry 5 
edited by Peter Redgrove and Jon Silkin.
Hutchinson, 163 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 09 139570 4
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... left to die. Now mi dad’s the only one keeps up his front. Congratulations to the anthologists, Peter Redgrove and Jon Silkin, for culling ...

Baby Power

Marina Warner, 6 July 1989

The Romantic Child: From Runge to Sendak 
by Robert Rosenblum.
Thames and Hudson, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1989, 0 500 55020 4
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Caldecott & Co: Notes on Books and Pictures 
by Maurice Sendak.
Reinhardt, 216 pp., £13.95, March 1989, 1 871061 06 7
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Dear Mili 
by Wilhelm Grimm, translated by Ralph Manheim and Maurice Sendak.
Viking Kestrel, £9.95, November 1988, 0 670 80168 2
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Grimms’ Bad Girls and Bold Boys: The Moral and Social Vision of the ‘Tales’ 
by Ruth Bottigheimer.
Yale, 211 pp., £8.95, April 1989, 0 300 04389 9
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The one who set out to study fear 
by Peter Redgrove.
Bloomsbury, 183 pp., £13.95, April 1989, 0 7475 0187 4
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... only a moral claim, legitimising inherent, occluded judgments. In ‘The Three Feathers’, one of Peter Redgrove’s variations on the Grimms, written for Radio 4, the eldest brother speaks for the author when he concedes: ‘It looks like shamanism is here to stay.’ Fairy-tales invite latterday shamans with ambitions to spiritual healing, and ...

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