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This review is taken from PN Review 164, Volume 31 Number 6, July - August 2005.

A SINGULAR MUSIC JOHN MOLE, Counting the Chimes: New & Selected Poems 1975-2003 (Peterloo Poets) £9

John Mole has been ruthless in assembling this, his second Selected Poems. He has weeded and pruned his nine earlier collections to make a formal garden or parkland, which now takes in a substantial territory of poems written since For the Moment appeared in 2000. It is a beautiful and disturbing place to find oneself in. The poems cut lapidary inscriptions, handsome and chill reminders of how time devours and night comes early. Here,

where the cat extends and rolls its silver fur
across a sun-spot, where all points of light
play leap-frog dazzle in a water-bowl ('Serenade')

the natural world plays its repetitive, enticing music to those fleeting generations so briefly at home in it, and whose unknowable lives meet us at every twist and turn. In this garden, to be close is to be distant; to be distant, close. A boy and his father play an endless game of hide and seek, twisting their relation-ship on time's double-thread. In 'The Birthday' a shadow trails across the sun:

What did he do? His mother laughed, then cried,
His father's silence made the garden cold.
Guilty, perhaps, of being five years old
He's sent their hurt love terribly inside...

and in the wonderful 'A Different Dream' light sharply pierces that shadow, but cannot banish it:

Here is the place for them, the fathers ...

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