Poem introduction

'Soil' takes place in England on a train journey. I was taking a ride I think from London up to Yorkshire and I looked out at the soil, the earth and I thought I recognise that colour - where does that colour come from? And what does it mean to me? It seemed to be saying something, it seemed to be saying something and it brought to my mind the subject of belonging - to this soil, or to that soil.

Soil

Soil

What colour would you call that now? That brown
which is not precisely the colour of excrement
or suede?
The depth has you hooked. Has it a scent
of its own, a peculiar adhesiveness? Is it weighed,
borne down

by its own weight? It creeps under your skin
Like a landscape that's a mood, or a thought
in mid-birth,
and suddenly a dull music has begun. You're caught
by your heels in that grudging lyrical earth,
a violin

scraped and scratched, and there is nowhere to go
but home, which is nowhere to be found
and yet
is here, unlost, solid, the very ground
on which you stand but cannot visit
or know.


from The Budapest File (Bloodaxe, 2000), copyright © George Szirtes 2000, used by permission of the author and Bloodaxe Books Ltd.

Recordings

George Szirtes Reading from his poems

1The Accordionist

2Losing

3The Photographer in Winter 1

4The Swimmers

5Rain

6National Anthem

7Soil

8Pearl Grey

9Copper Brown

10Keighley

11Orgreave

12Preston North End

13Death by Meteor

14Noir

15Meeting Austerlitz

16Piano

17Comical Roses in a Cubic Vase

18Water

19Prayer for my Daughter

Books & cds by George Szirtes