About the poet
David Harsent (b. 1942) won the 2005 Forward Prize for Legion, which was also shortlisted for...
Punch's Day-Book - an extract
'There are those who plan to die
blameless, open-handed, an unwritten letter.
We can't aspire to that.
We lack the pure compulsion and the nerve.
The orchard's harvested; the stoves are lit
to burn all winter; the house is steeped
in a musty odour of fruit.
Think how it is
to own nothing, to carry nothing
from one place to the next...
Unburdened, my body grows
featureless. I could disappear in water,
be perfectly matched to grassland.
is stripped and life goes on underground;
even the telephone's in hibernation.
I shall be here, of course,
seeing the season out from my fireside chair,
sometimes bringing apples down from the loft
or walking to church. If I should stray,
how would you ever find me?-
a pallid silhouette
on a clear road, like any refugee.'
from Mister Punch (Oxford University Press, 1984), copyright © David Harsent 1984, used by permission of the author
David Harsent Reading from his Poems