Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Gwyneth Lewis ‘Spiderings’ Ian Thomson ‘Fires were started: Tallinn, 1944’ Adrian May ‘Traditionalism and Tradition’ Judith Herzberg ‘Poems’ translated by Margitt Helbert Horatio Morpurgo ‘What is a Book?’
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review 276
PN Review Substack

This poem is taken from PN Review 72, Volume 16 Number 4, March - April 1990.

Three Poems Glyn Maxwell

Drive to the Seashore

We passed, free citizens, between the gloves
of dark and costly cities, and our eyes
bewildered us with factories. We talked.

Of what? Of the bright dead in the old days,
often of them. Of the great coal-towns, coked
to death with scruffy accents. Of the leaves

whirled to shit again. Of the strikers sacked
and picking out a turkey with their wives.
Of boys crawling downstairs: we talked of those

but did this: drove to where the violet waves
push from the dark, light up, lash out to seize
their opposites, and curse to no effect.

Would We

He made a guess it was the western road.
Onerously dark, the sky said O.
His only hope at that point was a light

in a window in that village, there, low
on the third hill. It'd take him half the night.
But the road would take him there, the western road

or whatever it was, he hoped it would. It might.
It made sense, at that time, to take the road
anyway, at least to keep moving, so

he shouldered what he had. The pale road
wound into true dark, and you never know,
he might have made the village, seen the bright

lamp in the high window, seen a row
of clear faces there, alarmed and white,
about to help the stranger from the road.

But as I say, you never know. I doubt
that happened. He was filthy from the road.
We'd have helped. We wouldn't have said No.


"Amass," the people-loving government
suddenly said, "enough to care for the
forgotten citizens, our friends!" It meant
the trees. Also, apparently, the air

and a misleading rain edging between
equally nervy pylons, out of favour.
The kidney-donors raised a million.
Some patients had a Fun Run towards Dover

and, gradually, the money grew. The trees,
in this long interim, grew more extreme
in their views and aspects; their old guess,
sarcastically-guessed, was on the beam,

so when the Members came, accepting thanks
with one hand and amassing with the other,
to tile and plaster banknotes to the barks
and winds, to wax and eulogise the weather,

no atom, not the craziest, was one
jot surprised when seas began to fall,
green mud amass, and best friends in the rain
nudge and run, and patients bang the bell.

This poem is taken from PN Review 72, Volume 16 Number 4, March - April 1990.

Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this poem to
Further Reading: - Glyn Maxwell More Poems by... (1) Reviews of... (5)
Searching, please wait... animated waiting image