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This report is taken from PN Review 237, Volume 44 Number 1, September - October 2017.

Three Poems Arthur Longbow

Arthur Longbow was born in in 1864, briefly attended the Slade, and died in 1940, just five years before Symons. It seems his mother was French, possibly one of the Languedoc Longuebeau family – Arthur was illegitimate and perhaps this was one of the reasons why his name was hardly known, in spite of the quality of his verse – until one day in the summer of 1939 his grandson George told him they’d been reading a poem by Arthur Longbow in the school anthology. Strange coincidence of names, wasn’t it?


Leaves, light cloth around limbs,
Air in the armpits and the puffy hair,
Desire rising as the firelight dims,
Both scent and powder in the atmosphere,
These are the properties we share.

We live indoors, though fond
(We say) of nature with its dirt and stings:
Under the piano you respond
With sighs as I undo the silken strings
That dash-dot-dash your cotton underthings.


Delicate they are,
All but transparent,
These poets, as aware
As spiders in their webs
Of the flavoursome air.

They can detect the flies,
The distant flowerbeds,
The perfumed lingeries.
They even seem to hear
The birds’ amorous cries.

But don’t they notice the rattle
Of death across the sea,
The approaching ...

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