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'Patrick B. Osada lives in Berkshire – and I was born and bred in Berkshire...and as many poems in his new collection How The Light Gets In (Dempsey & Windle, £9) have their roots in Berkshire, this book comes into my hands already drenched in reviewer bias. The Royal County is rightly symbolized by the Oak and Hart, and these poems are equally dignified and animate, full of the tension between stillness and movement.
These lines from Warfield Visitor hint at what I mean; describing a Red Kite…
“Till, with a flick of his forked tail / he caught the breeze to head north-west. / Like nylon kites above Larks Hill, / this bird is tethered to its home: / a pull, Like Ariadne’s thread, / will draw him back to Beacon Hill / and Cowleaze Wood in distant Bucks.”
I like the “distant Bucks” - a good handful of miles across the Thames beyond the Alfredian Burghs where the damned Mercians live...as any true Berkshire-Wessex folk will tell you. And that’s the thing, this is that rarity these days – a book of poems that, in the main, concentrate on a locality; not just its flora and fauna but also change. Here is the conclusion of Making Hay, about the 65 acre solar farm at Pingewood, Berks;
They promise they will seed a meadow here
where sheep can safely graze for thirty years,
now acres of dark windows face the sky
and on each frame a glassy panel’s ‘live’.
So, new breed farming clearly has begun
to turn a profit harvesting the sun.
This is poetry in the tradition of John Clare, responding not just to the natural environment, but also to how it is changing. Sadly, it may have a greater impact on future readers, who may reflect upon this poetry as representing a requiem for rural England. I hope that I’m wrong. It is a good read – a refreshing landscape in a gallery full of portraits…
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