Poems by David Sutton
David Sutton was born at Hemel Hempstead in 1944. His first Peterloo collection, Flints (1986), like two earlier collections – Out on a Limb (Rapp & Whiting, 1969) and Absences and Celebrations (Chatto & Windus, 1982) – was extremely favourably received:
’The poems . . . have a lean and hungry look, deal expertly with dangerous subjects like love, and press their way into the memory without any fuss . . . Small surprise, then, that as long ago as 1969, Robert Graves called Sutton “the best young poet in England”.’
Robert Nye, The Times
’It is a relief to get back to earth with David Sutton’s Flints. Sutton is . . . rooted in the poetic tradition of Hardy, Thomas and Larkin . . . Flints is one of the most enjoyable collections I’ve read for a long while.’
Herbert Lomas, London Magazine
’His effects are achieved through a supreme mastery of and loyalty to the traditional English verse forms, which never extinguish his individual voice . . . Flints is David Sutton’s third collection. It confirms the promise Robert Graves discerned in his first.’
Shirley Toulson, British Book News
There ought to be a survey done, with maps.
One shouldn’t come upon them unawares.
I mean the places where you fall through time.
You know them by a lifting of the hairs,
A sudden tense alertness, not quite fear,
The air’s electric whisper: who goes here?
It happens anywhere: an old canal,
The corner of a field, a cobbled mews.
I’d plot them all, a pointillist of time.
I’ve worked it out, the colours that I’d use:
Vermillion for the present, shading back.
The past’s autumnal spectra end in black.
My maps would be a handbook for the haunted.
There’d be blood-red, then, for the motorways
With cities in their web like scarlet spiders,
But over here, in delicate flint-greys,
High on the dons pure Neolithic time
In chalky hollows, lingering like rime.
For furthest back, before the glaciers,
I’d let sloe-purple pint the night caves.
My Roman ghosts would rise in blues and ochres
And Bronze Age russet glint about old graves.
How lovingly I’d chart one valley’s scene
In Saxon gold and fresh mediaeval green.
But there’s no school for time’s cartographers
And any skill of mine to mark and keep
I’d lavish on the contours of the living.
It’s only sometimes, at the edge of sleep,
I watch imagined colours pulse and fade.
How beautiful, the maps I never made.
Price £7.95 per copy post free (£5.30 post free to Associate Members)
Cover illustration: Samuel Palmer ‘Valley with a Bright Cloud’. (Courtesy of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford).
Publication: SPRING 1991 (56 pages laminated paperback)