Image by Caroline Forbes

Poem introduction

'Immigrant' looks back from some years afterwards to the time when I first arrived in London from New Zealand feeling very foreign, in fact very colonial with my New Zealand accent which I hastened to get rid of, and my Marks & Spencers clothes - I was trying to pass as a genuine Londoner like so many others. I would walk around St James's Park sometimes at lunchtime and I would see the swans who were actual English birds on the lake, and the pelicans who were immigrants like me and I tended to identify with the pelicans.

Immigrant

Immigrant

November '63: eight months in London.
I pause on the low bridge to watch the pelicans:
they float swanlike, arching their white necks
over only slightly ruffled bundles of wings,
burying awkward beaks in the lake's water.

I clench cold fists in my Marks and Spencer's jacket
and secretly test my accent once again:
St James's Park; St James's Park; St James's Park.


from Poems 1960-2000 (Bloodaxe Books, 2000), copyright © Fleur Adcock 2000, used by permission of the author

Recordings

Fleur Adcock Reading from her poems

1A Surprise in the Peninsula

2Stewart Island

3Country Station

4Kilpeck

5The Ex-Queen Among the Astronomers

6The Soho Hospital for Women

7Immigrant

8Crab

9Piano Concerto in E Flat Major

10Street Song

11Leaving the Tate

12Scalford Again

13Chippenham

14The Telephone Call

15Cattle in Mist

16The Russian War

17Water

18Anne Welby

19Swings and Roundabouts

20Willow Creek

21For Meg

22From Kensington Gardens: Droppings

23From Kensington Gardens: Handful

24From Kensington Gardens: Checking Out

25From Kensington Gardens: Goodbye