Our Poem of the Month, in association with Picador
"Poetry," wrote Aristotle, "is finer and more philosophical than history; for poetry expresses the universal, and history only the particular."
Unfortunately, poetry books, these days at least, tend to sell rather fewer copies than history books, so we hope to redress the balance a little with our latest Poem of the Month, presented in association with Piacdor.
Picador are one of the UK's foremost publishers of poetry, with a list that features, amongst many others, the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Sean O'Brien, Jackie Kay, Annie Freud, Paul Farley, Ian Duhig, Robin Robertson and Clive James.
This month's poem is by Glyn Maxwell, a poet who has won the 1997 E M Forster Award and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and has been shortlisted for both the TS Eliot Prize and the Forward Prize. He has also written a number of plays and libretti and his debut novel, Blue Burneau, won the Whitbread First Novel Award. His adaption of Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Gambler was first broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 2009.
Having started an MLitt at Oxford, he moved to Boston to study poetry and drama under Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott. He returned to the UK to publish his first collection in 1990 and now lives in Islington, north London.
'Cassandra' is taken from One Thousand Nights and Counting: Selected Poems, which presents the best of his poems from the last twenty years.
Adam Newey's review of the book in the Guardian describes him as "a poet of formidable technical gifts who revels in the sheer power of storytelling ... a poet who knows as well as any how to make a human sound".
You. I won't foresee for you one thing.
You staring into space, you moulding creatures.
You thinking if you stop it then the world ends.
Little old you, it does. Mine doesn't, yours will.
But I won't foresee for you, you won't believe me.
You rub your eyes and write. You've not believed
life's anything but a grin into the mist
for some time now, although you gasp at line-breaks
like something spoke to you. O it spoke to you.
I'm at your window now: I breathe the year
you'll leave on the warm glass. Beyond my wild hair
blossoms the to-come but you're so distracted,
you, by lips, by ways, you think like me -
wake with one face a sniff away forever,
speak the lines she speaks at the moment she
speaks these you speak and set your lips where she does,
then you'll see nothing coming or becoming,
and all will be so well. - It will be well,
but I won't let you hear that. If you hear it
you won't believe it, there's where our curses meet
like kisses. All will be well. You didn't hear it,
you, therefore believe it, as your fingers
whittle at the keys to the bright screen,
as the windowpane goes cold and I move on,
trespassing away down your lawn,
over the wall and out across farmland.
Previous Poems of the Month
August: Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins
July: The Hum by Rachael Boast