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Verse and C.

Oliver Bernard

Imprint: Anvil Press Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (128 pages)
(Pub. May 2001)
Out of Stock
  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Author

    I Grow Old – and Somewhat Religious

    Hesitating in the cramped kitchen,
    More of my weight on one foot than the other,
    Daylight diamonded through sweaty glass,
    I see the gas bottle, the shabby squares
    Of carpet, the spare bowl under the sink.
    The voice of my careful head is clear and silent,
    And ‘what am I looking for?’ is what it says.

    What am I looking for? I was putting sticks
    Into the stove. I see the plastic strainer,
    The empty milk bottle, the frying pan,
    The dusty can of Italian olive oil.
    It isn’t these. But there’s the empty teapot.
    Something. And then the winter light reminds me:
    The kettles to fill. I fill them at the tap
    And put them on the stove which is getting hot.

    What am I looking for? The revolution?
    The far off happy land? The next election?
    My cup of tea is simply this kingdom of heaven,
    Now: and – as in the penny catechism –
    ‘To be happy with him for ever in the next.’

    Verse &c. collects a substantial body of Oliver Bernard’s poetry written since the early 1980s and the publication of Poems (1983). His versions of French poets – Rimbaud, Apollinaire – are widely known and praised, but his original work has recently appeared only in small editions. Verse &c. offers lyricism, narratives, political protest, poems about people, poems of place, an anonymous Middle English poem ‘Quia Amore Langueo’ and much else. Bernard’s variety, wit and clarity of imagination will surprise and delight.

    Oliver Bernard, born in 1925, worked as an advisory teacher of drama, and was a director of the Speak a Poem Competition since its inception. He was a fine reader and in 2012 produced a second CD of his readings, Rimbaud, Whitman Etc . This also included his own sequence ... read more
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