“Where the English wilderness is”: a poem. #poems #poets #poetry

Cliff Lane

where the English wilderness is
in the interstices
along the margins
here at the roadside
deep in grasses, poppies,
mallows and escaped hypericum
wherever the wind bears the seed
wherever the buzzard has moved in
new territory of field, wood and air
not asking for our opinion
us, who are
wilderness in wilderness

(Poem 105: 29/06/08 from the poem-a-day project, 2008 – 2012, Michael Blackburn).


Please don’t encourage the young to “change the world”.


AROUND THE INSTITUTION posters have gone up exhorting the young folk to become global activists. “Change Your World,” says one of them. “You must be the change you want to see in the world,” says another (good old Gandhi). “Let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons,” comes the voice of Malala Yousafzi. In the communal dining area the words of Saint Mandela are printed on the wall up high: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

As a now aged man who has seen and endured the results of people wanting to change the damn world — purportedly for the better and with our interests at heart, of course — I wholeheartedly disagree with this advice.


At The Fortnightly review.

Brian Higgins and the iniquity of his oblivion.


“THE INIQUITY OF OBLIVION blindly scattereth her poppy, and deals with the memory of men without distinction to merit of perpetuity.” So wrote Sir Thomas Browne, a writer who has not had the full weight of said iniquity fall upon him and managed to remain partly in the light of literary remembrance. Those of us stricken with the vanity that we may be remembered after our death for our poems, novels, plays, paintings, songs or whatever, never find out, of course, though we know the odds are in favour of the poppy.

Such was the case with Brian Higgins (1930 – 1965), poet, mathematician, teacher, rugby player, freelance journalist and dole wallah. Higgins published three (hardback) collections, two of them during his very short life (The Only Need and Notes While Travelling), and one posthumously (The Northern Fiddler). His poems had appeared in reputable magazines and anthologies, including The Faber Book of Twentieth Century Verse, so he was not exactly an obscure scribbler while alive. His portrait was painted by Patrick Swift, one of the leading Irish artists of the day, and he knew many of the more successful writers of the period. This included George Barker, himself a permanently half-remembered poet, who wrote a foreword to The Northern Fiddler.

Read on at The Fortnightly Review.

Too young to tan, too young to vote.


THE CAMPAIGN TO GET the voting age lowered to 16 is one of the left’s current political fashions and a useful way both to market themselves as modern and caring while badging opponents as youth-hating old fuddy-duddies. They seem to have had some success in persuading young people to vote for Labour in the recent election, despite the fact that there is no dinosaur older than Corbyn on the political scene or anyone whose policies are more paleolithic and discredited. But that’s a result of the ignorance of youth, as we shall see.

Read on at The Fortnightly Review.

Poem in Land of Three Rivers anthology.

Land of Three Rivers

I have a poem, “The North Sea At Tynemouth”, in the new Bloodaxe anthology, Land of Three Rivers: The Poetry of North-East England.

Transnational buffoonery (or annoying the Cornish and others).


JOHN BOLTON, FORMER US ambassador to the UN and recently the non-appointed Secretary of State in the Trump administration, famously quipped that if the UN building in New York lost ten stories “it wouldn’t make a bit of difference”. He also said that “There’s not a bureaucracy in the world that couldn’t be made leaner.” I think the latter is definitely true while the former errs on the side of generosity…

Read on at The Fortnightly Review.

You can read more about similar things in my book here.