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The Swan

The Swan


Just as Blake engraved his poems backwards,
out of necessity but also open-mindedness,

each illuminated word gleaming in relief
against its brightly burning backdrop,

something clicked into place
as we watched it hurtling upwards:

the desperate, beating wingspan
testament to what should or could or can

be achieved when all’s open, flung wide,
neck craned out and eyes on the prize

as, thrashing itself from the lake’s surface,
its flight was a realised extravagance –

as Blake, man of genius and boy of visions,
saw angels line the trees, beyond reach of metaphors.





poem by Ben Wilkinson; first published in The Sparks (tall-lighthouse, 2008)

Review: Colette Bryce's Self-Portrait in the Dark

Often as it might be said of first collections, Colette Bryce’s The Heel of Bernadette (2000) was a debut of genuine and considerable promise: its taut, economic lines combining everyday vernacular with deftly crafted images and a winning, often unusual musicality, to produce, in its finer moments, poems that were both intellectually provocative and formally agile. It suggested that a more mature and potentially brilliant second collection might follow, but for all its qualities – the poems’ stylish lines, their verve and meticulous execution – its follow-up, The Full Indian Rope Trick (2004), offered little in the way of real surprises, tending to reiterate (with a few notable exceptions) the winsome effects of Bryce’s earlier work.

‘A Spider’, the opening vignette of Self-Portrait in the Dark, quickly and quietly suggests that this new book will be, in at least certain respects, different. A sketch that takes the act of ‘trapp[ing] a spider in a glass’ as symbolic of the narrator’s o…