I have my yellow boots on to walk
Across the shires where I hide
Away from my true people and all
I can't put easily into my life.
So you will see I am stepping on
The stones between the runnels getting
Nowhere nowhere. It is almost
Embarrassing to be alive alone.
Take my hand and pull me over from
The last stone on to the moss and
The three celandines. Now my dear
Let us go home across the shires.
The Night City
Unmet at Euston in a dream
Of London under Turner's steam
Misting the iron gantries, I
Found myself running away
From Scotland into the golden city.
I ran down Gray's Inn Road and ran
Till I was under a black bridge
This was me at nineteen
Late at night arriving between
The buildings of the City of London/
And then I (O I have fallen down)
Fell in my dream beside the Bank
of England's wall to bed, me
With my money belt of Northern ice.
I found Eliot and he said yes
And sprang into a Holmes cab.
Boswell passe me in the fog
Going to visit Whistler who
Was with John Donne who had just seen
Paul Potts shouting on Soho Green.
Midnight. I lost the moon
Light chiming on St. Paul's.
The city is empty. Night
Watchmen are drinking their tea.
The Fire had burnt out.
The Plague's pits had closed
And gone into literature.
Between the big buildings
I sat like a flea crouched
In the stopped works of a watch.
[ From the Sleeping Hand ]
Look down from a height on the long
Oystercatching shore of Loch
Long at first light with the tide
Streaming out between the pools
And you will see. Don't breathe
Or frighten me waiting to meet
My dear from the sleeping house coming
Over the shingle with her bare feet.
Selected by Michael Hofmann
New York Review of Books