Book Reviews Literature Poetry

Reading and Pondering Reid

Once again, magically

and without official notification,

it was the time of the year

for the pale-blue butterflies to arrive.

From Reid’s Collection “Katerina Brac

Well indeed, the weather has picked up and the magnolia is in blossom in the gardens. I have just been reading the new collection of poems by Christopher Reid entitled “The Late Sun and finding it simply excellent. My favourite poem in his collection at the moment is a collaborative translation with Renata Senktas from the Polish of Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński. It is called from A Trip to Świder

Reid’s poem begins:-

Stars like musicians.

August like a green bird.

The stars play, The wind dances.

And August sheds feathers.

The poem proceeds with such short pellucid sentences and builds in a dream-like imagist manner the vision of this extraordinarily beautiful suburb of Warsaw. The full version of this may be found at

The poem ends with a literary allusion and is infused with a gentle melancholy-

Children in prams, woodpeckers,
a birch growing at a slant,
the river, and the blind man
who drank beer at the station;

and this house with its pointed roof
hidden among raspberry bushes,
and this shadow… as in Three Sisters
by Anton Chekhov.

An informative Polish Website at interestingly comments that, “hermetic as it sometimes appears, A Trip to Świder is carried along by its musical brio, its dream-like marriage of fantasy and truth, and its kaleidoscopic blending of dissimilar tones and images, which, to quote Czesław Miłosz, “chase one another with the speed of a hurtling train”.

The Late Summer is replete with great poetry and well worth the effort to read over and over. As a result of reading its 79 pages and not having presently been otherwise engaged by a novel- too many new webinars-I have found much to ponder over between cafetieres of coffee- the poems open up vistas of travel and return to the delights of London. Which thought reminds me of my first encounter with Reid via the wonderful poem-play “The Song of Lunch” world-wearily but delightfully intoned by Alan Rickman with Emma Thompson.

By penwithlit

Freelance writer and radio presenter

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