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After he died she came, a veiled lady,
Who stood beside the bed. Nothing was said.
(There was a widow, who had had a child.)
She did not brush his forehead with her fingers,
She stood: now robed in fat beneath her furs,
Her veil the dark of time.
When she went home she cried a little, blotched
Her face, then stopped. Her daughter had gone out.
She clasped her hands, with their false ring, and listened.
The bed was warm, but when she reached the street
The keen air made her shawl a cave of white.
Her feet, in their small boots, broke through the snow
Softer, and faster, like a young girl dancing.
He never heard those steps. He quarrelled with her,
Struck her with silence, would not hear her name.
Now she spoke his; and snuffing out the candle,
Listened to the echo he became.
from 'After Beethoven'
From Lenin Park, Hanoi, to the Humber, from wars near or remote in space, near or remote in time, these poems come with their news of aftermath, and of the worlds which survive and recrudesce after the sky has fallen. It is not only the large wars but smaller conflicts which define and leave their traces. The poems in After Beethoven are touched by death, but still more stubbornly by life. The poems are order in a kind of progression from shared to private history and then out again; from foreign and exotic to familiar, domestic landscapes and then out again to the world, the voice nurtured and informed by the specifics of place. After Beethoven concludes with the long poem, 'A Short Story', extending the compelling narrative line that has run through Brackenbury's work from her very first book.
Praise for Alison Brackenbury 'Brackenbury's range as a poet continues to grow, just as her stanza forms become simpler and more pared-down. A growing engagement with inherited English culture allows her to question unspoken and given assumptions.'
M.C. Caseley, Agenda
'Brackenbury conjures a poetry that brings those frightening things into plain daylight, a poetry of the active life, of thrift and graft, of spirits that when pressed resort to sanity.'
'Brackenbury makes rhyming seem easy in work that is clever, controlled, eccentric and thoroughly British in both subject matter and tone.'
David Starkey, Santa Barbara Independent
'Brackenbury is a poet of strong feeling, deeply involved with her subject matter. That the work is cast with such craft and needs to do so little to draw attention to itself makes it all the more pleasurable.'
Jonathan Davidson, Poetry Review 'Alison Brackenbury's ninth collection of poems is a humble, often humorous, celebration of the everyday and the privileges of age.' - Harriet Barker, TLS 'It is her immediate response to the natural world happenings, the seasons, family and memories, and all life's incidentals that make her poems so easy to relate to.' - D. A. Prince, The North 'Filigreed with images of light and dark throughout, it's evocative, amusing and utterly compelling.'
Frances Lass, Radio Times 'Glorious'
Gillian Reynolds, Daily Telegraph 'Enchants'
The Times 'Alison Brackenbury loves, lives, hymns and rhymes the natural world and its people like no other poet.'
Gillian Clarke, National Poet of Wales
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