FLOWERS OF THE HUDSON BAY
Poems by Tony Roberts
Tony Roberts was born in Doncaster in 1949. He was educated at Didsbury College and then, on a Drapers’ Scholarship, at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
Flowers of the Hudson Bay is a first full collection in which Tony Roberts reveals a strong sense of the contemporaneity of historical event and the eternality of human response. His imagination is particularly held by American history (the early attempts at settlement of the continent, the Civil War), eighteenth century English history, Shakespeare, and the Classical world. Always it is the little heroisms of the spirit that he celebrates. Poems within this volume first appeared in Acumen, Argo, Encounter, Iron, London Magazine, Poetry Durham, Poetry Review and other leading magazines, and have won prizes in major national competitions. A selection of Tony Roberts’s poems appeared in Peterloo Preview 1 in 1988 and attracted many favourable review notices:
’The real find of the collection is Tony Roberts. His historical investigations are powerfully inhabited and keenly felt . . . On this showing alone Roberts seems destined to become a fiction-maker par excellence . . . and all his poems enact real warmth and delighted interest.’
David Kennedy, Poetry Review
’The sense of larger historical currents . . . is Tony Roberts’s consuming theme: he likes museum set-pieces, a closed cinema, monologues from the American past . . . his eye for detail is strong.’
Sean O’Brien, Times Literary Supplement
Of his efforts to supply what was to be the Lost Colony of Roanoke, John White wrote:
”And when we were come thither, the season was so unfit, & weather so foule, that we were constrained to force to forsake that coast, having not seene any of our planters, with losse of one of our ship-boates, and 7 of our chiefest men.” (1593)
All night we lay off the most northern point
Of Roanoak, being bothered by the call of crow.
The saylers fell to speculation, I to pray
And watch for hours the light from fired pine shape
Darkness with its dance. At first we took it for
The planters’ sign, but since the Iland sat
As still as Muta at the eloquent
Address we made with Grapnel, English tunes and
Trumpet, it could not be. Wither my Elyoner?
I had not thought her ‘mine’ time out of minde.
Nor had I meant to stand and dwell on past
With seven dead in surf that day. Yet night is mind.
With dawn we slipped the Boates & swopped the stain
Of spreading light for the shifting shades of the forest.
We found the fire had been the work of Sunne
On tinder grass, & not as I had thought was true:
The men of Dasamongwepeuk out flushing Deere.
Conies ran before us; black wings shuffled in trees.
Where we had left, three yeeres before, my crew
We found fresh Salvage prints, and on a sandy banke
A tree and on it carved in faire Romane: CRO
To signifie the place where we would find
Them safely seated with our friends, there being
No Crosse to show distresse. The sign was faire
And yet . . . Their sundry houses had been taken downe
In favour of a palisade of great trees
That stood new breached by wild Melon. And Dis
Held court within. Diverse sly handes had been at work
By means whereof Iron barres, two pigges of Lead,
Sackershotte and such lay throwen and wove with weedes.
And more: my buried chests lay open ruins.
My bookes torne from their covers; my picture frames
And Mappes rotten with rayne; my armour sieved with rust.
It is well that Time had tanned the old hide
Of my heart. I showed not care, save to command.
Next day we would to Croatoan, but here
A tempest grew and light lost all its fierce cast.
My bookes and Mappes, their swollen tongues! My daughter!
O I feared to make construction of the cro.
FLOWERS OF THE HUDSON BAY
Price £7.95 per copy post free (£5.30 post free to Associate Members)
Cover illustration: ‘Indian Village of Secoton’ from The Complete Drawings of John White by Paul Hulton (The University of North Carolina Press and British Museum Publications, 1984). Courtesy of The British Museum.
Publication: AUTUMN 1991 (64 pages laminated paperback)