Intimations of Mortality


Late November and the first frosts are cleansing

This place. There are gaps in the trees;

Irregular holes in the fence. The neighbours

Are incinerating the leaves


And I imagine myself not here.


The flames poke through the shrivelled heaps;

Last month’s decapitated heads disappear

In thin meandering smoke. It drifts across

The boundary into our home


And I imagine myself not here.


Today the frosted lawn is a beautiful

Altar cloth, starched and crisp, and laid out

For no god. The pond is a sheet of glass;

It returns the sky. Immaculate. Blue. Silent. Vast.


In his preface to Angelic Imagination, Abbs says ‘the aim of a poem is to define our predicament and, beyond that, to find sources of hope, creativity and consolation’. The collection is divided into two sections. The first, New Constellations, includes poems that attempt to create anew various artistic endeavours by others – poems, paintings, and sculpture. The second part, In Memoriam, is more personal... Bookending the collection are a prologue and an epilogue, both of which centre upon the definition of the Word, used in the Biblical sense. This is fitting, considering the poet’s continual celebration of and concentration on the importance of the authentic use of language, as well as his own transformation from a boy enthused by the possibilities of religion into a man anointed by the intensely spiritual force inherent in a primacy of words.

-Andrea Hollander Budy in British Authors (ed Jay Parini 2012)


Peter Abbs is the rarest of writers – a philosophical poet with a genuine lyrical gift. His poems are equally arresting for their substance as their style. Abbs is one of the few contemporary poets sufficiently tough-minded to be able to borrow from Dante, Mandelstam, Rilke and Seferis without being bested by the inevitable comparisons.

-Dana Gioia