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Frances Horovitz

Posted 12-06-2010 at 02:45 AM by Steve Bucknell
A kind of vertigo sets in once you begin to reminisce. Looking at Harold Massingham’s date of birth I realise he must have just been in his fifties when I saw him read in Wath. We thought of him as old, then, as ancient as the woods around Denaby. We thought of him as our own Basil Bunting, an exemplar of craft and commitment, a link to our linguistic Norse and Anglo-Saxon roots. I must be as old now as he was then.

Another evening at the George and Dragon... I remember Frances Horovitz, her beautiful eyes peeking through her dark fall of hair. She seemed very happy. She would have been forty, I was in my twenties. Her voice returns to me, reading “Rain-Birdoswald”. And that poem is with me whenever I’m standing out in the rain (which is quite often). But it’s not raining this morning, it’s minus seven on the outside thermometer and very icy, clear and still. The far woods glow in a roseate light. Perhaps more snow will fall.

New Year Snow


For three days we waited,
a bowl of dull quartz for sky.
At night the valley dreamed of snow,
lost Christmas angels with dark-white wings
flailing the hills.
I dreamed a poem, perfect
as the first five-pointed flake,
that melted at dawn:
a Janus-time
to peer back at guttering dark days,
trajectories of the spent year.
And then snow fell.
Within an hour, a world immaculate
as January’s new-hung page.
We breathe the radiant air like men new-born.
The children rush before us.
As in a dream of snow
we track through crystal fields
to the green horizon
and the sun’s reflected rose.

Frances Horovitz. Collected Poems. Bloodaxe .1995.
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