Poem introduction

This next poem is one of a little group of poems that I wrote for my wife about places that I knew before her I met and knew her. They're kind of introductions of her to these places and of the places to her in some sense. They're all places that we've been too together since we met, but one of them is about a place that we never have managed to get too but only seen at a distance.

Holy Island

I am behind you on the mainland, leaning

on your shoulder and pointing with one arm

in front of your face at weightless cinders

which are ravens blowing above the island.

 

Boulder clay on the outcrops, and beaches

doted and dashed with coal dust. Guillemots

whitening the cliff face. Small orchids clearly

still evolving in a downpour of Arctic sunlight.

 

How many years are there left to cross over

and show you things themselves, not my idea

of things? 25, if I live to be the age of my father.

I cannot explain why I have left it as late as this.

 

Your black hair blows into my eyes, and I see

everything moving fast now. Weather polishes

the silver fields ahead. The ravens swoop down

and settle in the gorgeous pages of the gospels.

 


from The Custom House (Faber, 2012), © Andrew Motion 2012, used by permission of the author c/o The Wylie Agency (UK) Ltd

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Andrew Motion

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1In the Attic

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2Anne Frank Huis

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3The Letter

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4A Blow to the Head

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5The Spoilt Child

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6To Whom It May Concern

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7Goethe in the Park

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8On the Table

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9Fresh Water

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10Serenade

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11The Dog of the Light Brigade

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12Mythology

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13A Glass of Wine

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14The Fox Provides for Himself

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15Closing the Curtains

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16Red Gloves

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17Veteran

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18Twitching

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19Passing On

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20The Mower

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21The Life of Harry Patch

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22The Death of Harry Patch

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23Now Then

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24A Pine Cone

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25The Gardener

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26Holy Island

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27The Discoveries of Geography

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28Audrey

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29Swim

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30The Fish in Australia

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31The Mill

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32Laying the Fire

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33Through the Lych Gate

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Books by Andrew Motion