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Pike by Ted Hughes


Pike, three inches long, perfect
Pike in all parts, green tigering the gold.
Killers from the egg: the malevolent aged grin.
They dance on the surface among the flies.

Or move, stunned by their own grandeur,
Over a bed of emerald, silhouette
Of submarine delicacy and horror.
A hundred feet long in their world.

In ponds, under the heat-struck lily pads –
Gloom of their stillness:
Logged on last year’s black leaves, watching upwards.
Or hung in an amber cavern of weeds

The jaws’ hooked clamp and fangs
Not to be changed at this date;
A life subdued to its instrument;
The gills kneading quietly, and the pectorals.



To read the full poem click here

Ted Hughes was born on this day in 1930.

Image by Benjamin Horn


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Ted Hughes is Elvis Presley by Ian McMillan

Ted Hughes is Elvis Presley

I didn’t die
that hot August night.
I faked it,

stuffed a barrage balloon
into a jump suit.
Left it slumped
on the bathroom floor.

Hitched a ride on a rig
rolling to New York. Climbed
into the rig, the driver said
‘Hey, you’re…’
‘Yeah, The Big Bopper. I faked it,
never died in that ‘plane crash.
Keep it under your lid.’
I tapped his hat with my porky fingers.
He nodded. We shared a big secret.


To read the full poem click here

Elvis Presley died on this day in 1977.


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The Badger by John Clare


Photo by Barrettyman  

The Badger by John Clare

When midnight comes a host of dogs and men

Go out and track the badger to his den,

And put a sack within the hole, and lie

Till the old grunting badger passes bye.

He comes and hears – they let the strongest loose.

The old fox hears the noise and drops the goose.

The poacher shoots and hurries from the cry,

And the old hare half wounded buzzes bye.

They get a forked stick to bear him down

And clap the dogs and take him to the town,

And bait him all the day with many dogs,

And laugh and shout and fright the scampering hogs.

He runs along and bites at all he meets:

They shout and hollo down the noisy streets.


He turns about to face the loud uproar

And drives the rebels to their very door.

The frequent stone is hurled where’er they go;

When badgers fight, then everyone’s a foe.

The dogs are clapt and urged to join the fray;

The badger turns and drives them all away.

Though scarcely half as big, demure and small,

He fights with dogs for bones and beats them all.

The heavy mastiff, savage in the fray,

Lies down and licks his feet and turns away.

The bulldog knows his match and waxes cold,

The badger grins and never leaves his hold.

He drives the crowd and follows at their heels

And bites them through – the drunkard swears and reels.


The frighted women take the boys away,

The blackguard laughs and hurries on the fray.

He tries to reach the woods, and awkward race,

But sticks and cudgels quickly stop the chace.

He turns agen and drives the noisy crowd

And beats the many dogs in noises loud.

He drives away and beats them every one,

And then they loose them all and set them on.

He falls as dead and kicked by boys and men,

Then starts and grins and drives the crowd agen;

Till kicked and torn and beaten out he lies

And leaves his hold and cackles, groans, and dies.

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Gairmscoile by Hugh MacDiarmid

Aulder than mammoth or than mastodon
Deep i’ the herts o’ a’ men lurk scaut-heid
Skrymmorie monsters few daur look upon.
Brides sometimes catch their wild een, scansin’ reid,
Beekin’ abune the herts they thocht to lo’e
And horror-stricken ken that i’ themselves
A like beast stan’s, and lookin’ love thro’ and thro’
Meets the reid een wi’ een like seevun hells.
… Nearer the twa beasts draw, and, couplin’, brak
The bubbles o’ twa sauls and the haill warld gangs black.
You can read the complete poem here.
Hugh MacDiarmid was born on this day in 1892, you can read more of his work through Surrey Libraries.
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“Hope” is a thing with feathers (314) by Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is a thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson


“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
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‘Summer with Monica’ by Roger McGough

‘Summer with Monica’ by Roger McGough.  50th anniversary edition illustrated by Chris Riddell.

Available from Surrey Libraries. (A small request charge may apply).

Have you read it? Please leave a review on our catalogue.



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Amor Mundi by Christina Rossetti

Amor Mundi by Christina Rossetti
“Oh where are you going with your love-locks flowing
   On the west wind blowing along this valley track?”
“The downhill path is easy, come with me an it please ye,
   We shall escape the uphill by never turning back.”
So they two went together in glowing August weather,
   The honey-breathing heather lay to their left and right;
And dear she was to dote on, her swift feet seemed to float on
   The air like soft twin pigeons too sportive to alight.
“Oh what is that in heaven where gray cloud-flakes are seven,
   Where blackest clouds hang riven just at the rainy skirt?”
“Oh that’s a meteor sent us, a message dumb, portentous,
   An undeciphered solemn signal of help or hurt.”
“Oh what is that glides quickly where velvet flowers grow thickly,
   Their scent comes rich and sickly?”—“A scaled and hooded worm.”
“Oh what’s that in the hollow, so pale I quake to follow?”
   “Oh that’s a thin dead body which waits the eternal term.”
“Turn again, O my sweetest,—turn again, false and fleetest:
   This beaten way thou beatest I fear is hell’s own track.”
“Nay, too steep for hill-mounting; nay, too late for cost-counting:
   This downhill path is easy, but there’s no turning back.”
Photo: Regent’s Park by Davide Simonetti
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