for Francis Ledwidge
When you pass over the senseless shell holes
that separate sweet music from a bomb,
all of us are woke (as the young now say)
to the strafing mud in your poet’s lung.
Even if all the gas-sick stallions of Meath
gambolled right here in this dugout
not one would conjure your Picardy –
Francis, you breathe
sound horses for us all to tether
to trench-thin air we’ll wake together.
(From 'The Night I Spoke Irish in Surrey')
Richard Hawtree’s poems have appeared in literary magazines including: The Stinging Fly, The Penny Dreadful, Banshee, SOUTH, and Scintilla. He has read his work at festivals, universities and bookshops across the U.K. and Ireland. He teaches Creative Writing at the University of Brighton.
Please note that orders from the Republic of Ireland have to be charged for postage at the European rate.
Reviewing "The Night I Spoke Irish in Surrey", Greg Freemen comments:
'Perhaps you need to be as well read as Richard Hawtree to truly appreciate the poetry in his rich, debut pamphlet collection. On the other hand, maybe it doesn’t matter. Most of the poems are inspired by, or versions of, something else, including a 13th century Westminster Abbey pavement, the Old Irish Instructions of King Cormac, and an early mediaeval Welsh lullaby.
Other references include Catullus, the burning of Sappho’s poems, and a poem simply titled ‘Stray Versicles’ that includes a section about an Irish psalter raised from a bog. ‘Pastourelle’ is after Kit Marlowe, blending the old and up to date:
"Come live with me, beloved. Let us dwell
near pyramids of fractals no Egyptian
could possibly unscramble. Let us spell
out every pixel of our high res passion
within the stanzas of this pastourelle ..."
[ ... ]
The collection concludes with the title poem, ‘The Night I Spoke Irish in Surrey’, a madcap infiltration of the spirit of Ireland with a staid English home county, in which the poet succeeds in making that county sound quite exotic as he goes on a kind of linguistic and topographical bender, invoking such Surrey sights as Virginia Water, the Mole Valley, the Hog’s Back, and Newlands Corner, before waking the morning after: “Next day we straggled out / over Waterloo Bridge - / the English jangling / in our sorry heads. “
(Full review: https://www.writeoutloud.net/public/blogentry.php?blogentryid=97543