Shifts In Undreamt Time

Shifts In Undreamt Time

Shifts in Undreamt Time, illus. Allen Fisher. London: Talus Editions, 1989.

This was the first presentation of my poetry with work by Allen Fisher whose paintings done for this volume are reproduced in the book. Advances in technology meant that for a low cost short run books could now look as good as commercially produced work.

There are three long homage poems in this volume: the first to Passolini, the second to Delius and the third to Sir Michael Tippet.

I have reproduced here only one small extract from section three of Homage to Sir Michael Tippet.

..and maybe it was death
          but it was not jungle
for the unknown land is not space
            but searching
and speechless before the birth of another

earth obliges
       tends to creation
unfixed
       broken
             so there is neither up nor down
nor north nor south
except inscribed
and maps
are the jackals of discovery

so Darwin read Malthus for amusement
from an invalid chair in a room
facing North in Kent      
       yet he said death was prompt as if it sped
to any midsummer’s Lost Paradise
       or sang on a bank’s wild time
       that the soul is the law of form
       a lease taken on existence
       tangled

dependent on
a web spun without fate
clarifying to the great
how the blind worm turned earth for the musk-rose
for men and women are apart from their lying
      banishing
the shadow of sex with a touch

and Janacek played the organ at Mendel’s funeral
and Bronowski thought he was going up
but the plane crashed
               when he went looking
for origins in Omo, East Africa
so he fell back on principles
intelligence sounder than reflex
as it stutters
          in the face of things