Two poems from 'Quicksilver' (Lapwing, 2022)

Two poems from 'Quicksilver' (Lapwing, 2022)
Photo by dan carlson / Unsplash

Muse

If I knew your name I’d whisper it
to the trees. If I could see your face
I’d touch it with my hands.
If I could hear your voice I’d catch it
with my tongue. If I could smell your body
I’d keep it close to mine. If I had by heart
the words of your most lovely melody,
I’d make sure that they were sung.
If I knew your mind…if I only knew
your mind, I’d hold it like a captive bird,
or like a bell that goes on quivering
long after it has rung. And if I could foresee
the way you’d come to me, I’d score it
in salt forever on the silken sands.

The Muse speaks

This thing you write, you think it’s really new?
You think that no-one ever thought this thing but you?
You think that somehow you can stake a claim
to words, and link them with your name?
You think that words can be possessed, like land,
that they don’t slip away, like air or sand?
What’s wrong with common ownership, I wonder?
There is no word you didn’t steal or plunder.
Wise up, get real, spurn individuation.
Cast off this anxious quest for innovation.
Lay yourself open to the words of others,
accept them as you would the gifts of lovers.
Recycle them, if they are strong and true.
Be humble. You are only passing through.


QUICKSILVER can be purchased direct from me, at 10£ per copy, plus postage and packing. Please email me at lucy.newlyn@seh.ox.ac.uk to order a copy.