He’s an unlikely mentor for a middle-aged female writer & teacher, this fiercely cynical, battered gay British poet. Yet every September 1st, I take out this poem and read it — often to my classes, as well. No one better captures the despair that washes over so many of us when we look around at today’s politics, today’s horrifically polarised and darkly self-centred world.
And yet, at the centre of his work, there is this stubborn spark of hope, a heart that still believes in possibility. It’s this, I think, that draws me to him. That, and the always fresh craftsmanship of a consummate word-smith. But poetry is more than craft — it’s also a kind of magic that translates our own Byzantine hearts into something we can (almost) understand.
So today, I offer this poem that always comforts my beginner’s heart. Enjoy.