The book and poet who have been my vademecum ever since student days and whose rediscovery by members of the Sphere was what first made me aware of this site. The volume also has the teasing pleasure of being wrapped in a dustjacket designed by the 'spy novelist-to-be', Len Deighton. This may at first sight seem to be a collection of light verse whimsy but lying behind the easy wit and deft constructions is a breadth of culture and a warm and humane intelligence - exactly the person that Richard Lister turned out to be when I met with him, aged 97, this year. His poetry gently mocks guilt without losing human regret ('The Idle Demon'), relishes life without losing sight of its evanescence ('The Gardens of the Morning') - and bears its reflections with civilising humour ('The Owlet and the Gamekeeper', 'Before the Ball'). Even its rare moments of anger are touched by wry good nature ('The Old Peasant') and its flashes of hurt ('Three Triolets') are bared with touching humility. He evokes the natural world with a sympathy which retains a proper sense of its contrasts with the human ('The Robin', 'The Snail') and dwells on human destiny with a shrewd awareness of history and with lyricism ('Pinkerfly', 'The Troubadour', 'Freedom's Mansion'). He makes me smile, renews my faith in the happiness of life and makes me reach, as he does, for other works of art - music, pictures and books.
Thanks to the Sphere's rediscovery of him the volume has now become a bit pricey - but worth every penny or cent at http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-idle-dem.../dp/B0000CK4SD