Saturday, 8 September 2012

Profile: Paul Surman

Paul Surman was born in Oxford in 1947, and has lived there all his life. He has been writing poetry for most of that time, and his work has been widely published. In 2012 his poems have appeared in 14 Magazine (the sonnet specialist) and Acumen, and further poems will appear in the next issues of Cake and Magma soon. He is a long time visitor to the Ashmolean.

It was the weather of a dream,
like some rough fabric we wore
that chafed, a thin lightning
crackling uninvited
through the general disturbance
of our flesh: but our thoughts

were worse; stumbling past
images of things in a hopeless
sweat, the road ahead a blind
curse, narrowing into infinity
with us alone on it, barren,
speechless with mutterings.

Through the squint of seeing
the landscape was only the heat
shouting obscure sayings
from a book of the inert, a text
of light on rocks, repeating—this
is all there is: then he was there,

a stranger asking us what it was
we had just said; cruel, calling us
fools and slow of heart, quoting
scriptures, as day turned to a heavy
night that blundered along with us,
until on arrival we asked him in

for something to eat. That's when
the dull pressure of fear and heat
was released—and we were amazed
by sudden recognition, not of man
or god, but of a gesture, plain as
the blessing and breaking of bread.

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