Slim, not a whisper through liquid but stillSilently moving, elegant as silk and slender,That yellow neck-ring poised above the water - You move alongside, yet distant, vulnerable,
So that we too try to stay still,To watch you watching us, there in the riverAs if this moment might go on for everUntil you find those reeds, hospitable
Sheltering substance, close-packed, over the stillMoving and menacing tracks that coverWhere you might go, your sole endeavourTo sound out any agent that might kill.
You are with me now, unappeased, stillFixed in my being, giving a shiverAlong the spine and spreading all over,Magnificent, and lost, and beautiful.
by Anthony Thwaite
from Collected Poems (2007)
Anthony Thwaite's Collected Poems, published as he reaches
seventy-seven, give readers an opportunity to see gathered together all
the poems he wants to preserve from the sixteen collections he has
published since his debut in the Fantasy Poets series in 1953. Although
his roots are partly in the Movement, he has developed a distinctive
style - once described as 'cunningly modulated eloquence' - and a range
of concerns which have defined his poetry from the beginning: memory,
history, archaeology, travel (he has lived in Japan and Libya, writing
of them with subtlety and affection), the intricacies of relationships,
and now the frustrations of age. Through his own voice and those he has
adopted (most memorably in 'The Letters of Synesius' and Victorian Voices),
he has made a significant contribution to the literature of the last
half-century, elegantly and perceptively setting the curiosities of the
present against the layers of the past.
Anthony Thwaite was born in 1930. He spent his childhood in
Yorkshire, the USA (1940-44) and school in Somerset. After national
service in Libya he read English at Oxford. He then married and went to
Japan for two years, where he taught English Literature at Tokyo
University. Since then he has been a BBC radio producer, literary
editor of the Listener and the New Statesman, co-editor of Encounter, and in 1986 was chairman of the Booker Prize judges. He is a literary executor of Philip Larkin and the editor of his Collected Poems and Selected Letters. He is a regular reviewer for the Guardian and other journals. In 1990 he was made an OBE for services to poetry.
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