About the poet
George Szirtes (b. 1948) came to England in 1956 as a refugee from Hungary. He was brought up in...
It's a baby grand with unexceptionable teeth
And a butterfly wing caught in the net curtain.
When touched it answers gently as a breath
Of cold wind, a sensualist in a puritan
Country. It is a hybrid creature with only
Three legs and a faint ephemeral grin,
With feminine curves, a gorgeous womanly
Voluptuousness. It seems almost indecent
To be sitting beneath her, guilty and lonely,
Ignorant of the role she will play. The cresent
Of her one hip is a shelter and the gloss
Of her body temptation. Concupiscent
Discords swell into proper fifths, zealous
Arpeggios clamber over her. Learning
Her vast bourgeois temperament is the cross
A child must bear as she stands burning
In the summer sun. And Chopin and Bartok
Can be enticed from her with their strut and yearning.
You must woo her carefully with wealth and work,
Until one day, like the butterfly she is,
She shrugs and vanishes into the sudden dark
Of history and other shady business.
from Reel (Bloodaxe, 2004), copyright © George Szirtes 2004, used by permission of the author and Bloodaxe Books Ltd.
George Szirtes Reading from his poems