In the latest issue:

The American Virus

Eliot Weinberger

The Home Life of Inspector Maigret

John Lanchester

Story: ‘Have a Seat in the Big Black Chair’

Diane Williams

The Last Whale

Colin Burrow

In Beijing

Long Ling

Princess Margaret and Lady Anne

Rosemary Hill

At the Movies: ‘Arkansas’

Michael Wood

Ruin it your own way

Susan Pedersen

At Home

Jane Miller

The Ottoman Conundrum

Helen Pfeifer

Poem: ‘Muntjac’

Blake Morrison

Piketty’s Revolution

Geoff Mann

Short Cuts: In Tripoli

Jérôme Tubiana

Coetzee Makes a Leap

Christopher Tayler

At Auckland Castle: Francisco de Zurbarán

Nicola Jennings

Drain the Swamps

Steven Shapin

Diary: In the Isolation Room

Nicholas Spice

The Night-ChandlersPeter Redgrove
Vol. 7 No. 14 · 1 August 1985

The Night-Chandlers

Peter Redgrove

228 words


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.

My face felt clean as the flowers.

The Self was also as I looked up
An array on green shelves in that swaying tree.

The metal moisture on a pool of green.

I was Sir Gawayne and his elation.


The superstadia glide down the river full
Of their glum fisherfolk
And their hopping silver hundreds and thousands

Of fish-oil pulled out of the sea in its silver pustules,

As if the whole sea were oil, swimming
In a little salt water, silver oil
That bleeds gold.

Droves of children in the schools
All with the Self at touch in their skin,
The Self risen near the surface, fitting.

Black metal factory superstadia
Drinking the sea’s oil of fishes
In which the Self glows,

Or drinking earth-oil from the seabed
Sticker down and drinking,
Swimming in ether

Among the moths paddling the ethereal cold sea-air
And its busy sleep of crackling clean messages,
Crackling sheaves of radio and pearl.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences