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Authors: Alan; Sillitoe

Collected Poems

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Collected Poems

Alan Sillitoe

CONTENTS

Preface

from
The Rats and Other Poems, 1960

Shadow

Poem Written in Majorca

Ruth's First Swim in the Mediterranean, 1952

Our Dream Last Night

To Ruth

Out of my Thousand Voices

Islands

Icarus

Carthage

Autumn in Majorca

On a Twin Brother's Release from a Siberian Prison Camp

On a Dead Bluebottle

Picture of Loot

A Child's Drawing

Opposites

Excerpts from ‘The Rats'

from
A Falling Out of Love and Other Poems, 1964

Poem Left by a Dead Man

Cape Finisterre

Woods

Storm

Housewife

Stars

Yes

Dead Man's Grave

The Drowned Shropshire Woman

Car Fights Cat

Frog in Tangier

Friend Died

Guide to the Tiflis Railway

from
Love in the Environs of Voronezh and Other Poems
and
Storm and Other Poems, 1968 and 1974

Baby

Tree

Ditchling Beacon

Lizard

Empty Quarter

First Poem

Love's Mansion

To Burn Out Love

Seatalk

Naked

Ghosts: What Jason said to Medea

Hunger

Hephzibah

Full Moon's Tongue

Silence and Stillness

Smile

Chain

Gulf of Bothnia – On the Way to Russia

Eurasian Jetnote

Irkutsk

Baikal Lake-dusk

Shaman at Listvyanka

Toasting

Railway Station

Ride it Out

The Poet

Left as a Desert

Love in the Environs of Voronezh

Goodbye Kursk

February Poems

Lovers Sleep

The Weight of Summer

Rose

Creation

Signal Box

Barbarians

Somme

Alchemist

View from Misk Hill near Nottingham

from
Snow on the North Side of Lucifer, 1979

Lucifer's Astronomy Lesson

Lucifer: The Official Version of his Fall

Lucifer Turned

Lucifer's Decision

Unity

Nimrod and Lucifer

The ‘Job'

Lucifer and Empedocles

Lucifer the Archer

Lucifer and Columbus

Lucifer the Surveyor

Lucifer the Mechanic

Lucifer and Revolution

Lucifer Telegraphist

Hymn to Lucifer

Lucifer's Report

The Last Chance

Lucifer and Job

Lucifer and Noah

Lucifer and Daniel

Lucifer in Sinai – 1

Lucifer in Sinai – 4

The Last

Goodbye Lucifer

from
Sun Before Departure, 1974–1982

Horse on Wenlock Edge

Nottingham Castle

Oxney

North Star Rocket

Fifth Avenue

The Lady of Bapaume

Stones in Picardy

August

Terrorist

Rabbit

Moth

Fishes

Thistles

Release

Left Handed

New Moon

Ophelia

Alioth the Bigot

Changing Course

On First Seeing Jerusalem

Nails

Learning Hebrew

Synagogue in Prague

Israel

On an Old Friend Reaching Jerusalem

Festival

Yam Kinneret (The Sea of Galilee)

Ezekiel

The Rock

In Israel, Driving to the Dead Sea

Ein Gedi (After Shirley Kaufman's essay: ‘The Poet and Place')

Eve

from
Tides and Stone Walls, 1986

Receding Tide

Bricks

Landscape – Sennen, Cornwall

Boarded-up Window

Derelict Bathing Cabins at Seaford

Southend Pier

Derelict Houses at Whitechapel

After a Rough Sea, at Seaford

Window, Brighton

Torn Poster, Venice

New Poems, 1986–1990

Camouflage

Dawn Pigeon

Early School

5744

Fire

Hiroshima

Small Ad

Work

Dead Tree

Spring in the Languedoc

Wakening

Departure from Poppi

Living Alone (For Three Months)

Home

Pearl

Lancaster

Shylock the Writer

Delacroix's ‘Liberty Guiding the People'

The Italian Woman

The Liberty Tree

Noah's Ark

A Biography of Alan Sillitoe by Ruth Fainlight

PREFACE

Unlike a novelist, who may hide behind his fiction for the whole of his writing life, a poet who presents his collected poems displays the emotional history of his heart and soul. Such a record, however seemingly disguised, cannot be falsified, supposing of course that the poems are true to himself, and what poems are not, if they are poems? That is the condition which I have followed in assembling this collection: the assumption that the inner life is more discernible, though perhaps only after diligent searching, than any self-portrayal in a story or novel.

From seven short volumes written between 1950 and 1990 I have chosen less than half the verse published, and therefore ask myself whether, if the omitted matter were put into another book, would it present a different picture of the state of the heart and soul over the same period? That may be a novelist's question, but the answer is a fair ‘no', for the material left out was mostly the fat and gristle surrounding the meat of what is printed here.

I was surprised at times by the extreme revision most of the poems so obviously needed when, all those years ago, I had considered them indisputably finished. Even so, I can't imagine that in the years to come I shall see any cause to amend them again. Though I shall no doubt look into the book from time to time, I shall no more be tempted to re-write than I am when looking into a previously published novel. Only in that way do the novelist and the poet coincide in me, otherwise the two entities are so separate that we might be two different people. Why this is I shall never know, unless there are some things which can never be said in fiction. They simply don't fit, being drawn from an elevation of the psyche which the novel can know nothing about.

When I became a writer it was as a poet, but it didn't take long for fiction to obtrude, perhaps to fill in those spaces which must necessarily exist between one poem and another, my temperament having decided that during my life I could not be permitted to be unoccupied for a moment. Such periods of emptiness, being too fearful to contemplate, were duly filled, and have been so ever since. The unconscious fear of idleness prevents me from brooding too heavily on my fate except in such a way that produces stories and novels.

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