A White Dark-Scented Rose

Love, listen to these words that run obliquely,

That never quite declare their aim, nor yield

What they appear to promise. Strange. Haunted,

Labile. Remember, last night, how the dark wind

Blew the transfiguring snow across the Downs

Over the dusty familiar paths? Like that, but not

Like that at all. Or imagine a white dark-scented rose

In some unknown garden, petal by petal, silently

Opening, silently closing, and no God watching.

Like that, but not like that at all. These words

Rise on their cadence. They cast a further spell

Until we enter an estrangement which feels like home.


(After Paul Celan)


No-one can create us again out of the dust.





Hallowed be thy name, No-one.

Who is not in heaven.


Not the Power.


Nor the Glory.


For your sake

We live and flower.


We are not roses -

Our stamens broken,

Our stems blood red.


Not in the beginning.


Nor in the end.


Flowering now and for never.






The voices of poets sometimes seem too soft and small to be heard these days. They drown easily in a cataract of prose. But good poetry, against appearances, is resilient and sharp. And its task, as Peter Abbs understands it, is to ‘break, blow, burn and make us new’. His latest collection, distilled from seven previous volumes as well as more recent work, display Mr Abbs as the brave and considerable poet he is: a seeker of the truth behind things, a metaphysician and perhaps above all an alchemist, with ‘burnt fingers, charred skin, cracked hands’.

-Ann Wroe in The Economist

The Flowering of Flint, his handsome new volume. This selected poems draws on Abbs’ seven collections since 1978, and finishes with seven new poems. Whether or not this symmetry is of any numerological significance, it creates a portrait of both the poetic development of this unusual writer and the way human preoccupations recur – to the point where they may be said to have shaped a life

-Fiona Sampson in Resurgence

His poetry affects you, the way that things affect him. His power to recreate the direct feel of experience using the diapason of traditional poetic resources is perhaps the chief reason to read him. And you should.

-Jeffrey Carson in Paros Life

Other Gifts


From my father the pang of existence.

Habitual unease. Guilt before appetite.

The long silence.


From my mother the iron junta of appearance.

The will to advance. Obsequious

Desire to please.


From the North sea the weather of possibility.

Clear horizons. The imperative of poetry.

A salt asperity.


From the Oak Woods the press and curve

Of things. The incomparable whiteness of water lily.

The purple globe of figs.


From the Catholic Church the acid of doubt.

Magic of incantation. Anodyne of prayer.

The terrible seeking out.