The Pike – a poem

A poem I wrote when I first arrived in Oxford. It felt wonderful to be standing in the footsteps of so many others. I wanted to work at inheriting the experience of the ages, and doing something with it. Standing by the river in Oxford University Parks, I was thinking of a poem by Ted Hughes about a pike, and how the pikes also have their lineage, of their experience down in the depths.

Under the river
(As deep as his England)
A pike, a stone

Son of the poet’s
First cold pike,
Descendent, undeciphered

Far from the rose
And the fire flashing
At me in your sideward glances

Far from our time
And our footfalls; still
Under perfect circles.

Inheritor
Of a single experience,
His body a sunk line, in time

We, inheritors
Of a thousand fancies,
Stand in spellbound future tense

In the pike’s poet’s body
(Now buried in his England),
This mud and his sense

Become ours.

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