The orchard, canker-bound and fading–Australian
Gothic. A bladeless windmill remonstrates

with a warm wind as it singes
oranges scattered in bitter wreaths

of deadwood, scale, and vitrified leaves.
A black-winged kite wrestles with temptation

and logic, water rats scaling the ruins
of barbed wire fences. The season equivocates.

I remove my shoes, the water stretches
bulrushes like new strings on an old guitar.

I position the wreck of my body and wait.
There is arrogance in this–expecting

him to appear, to consider his withering fruit,
divine my return, while refusing to cross

and help drag black suns from their sick zodiacs
with the hook of his walking-stick.


[Read in Peripheral Light: Selected and New Poems, published by Norton. Available on Kinsella’s own website here.]


‘Let us not speak, for the love we bear one another—
Let us hold hands and look.’
She such a very ordinary little woman;
He such a thumping crook;
But both, for a moment, little lower than the angels
In the teashop’s ingle-nook.

[Ripped from Read in John Betjeman: Poems selected by Hugo Williams, published by Faber & Faber.]

Un quai des bouquinistes

All down the Quais the boquinistes shut their green boxes.
———From the VIIme arrondisement
———Night like a vampire
———Sucks all colour, all sound
—–The winds are sleeping in their Hyperbórean cave;
—-The narrow streets bend proudly to the stars;
From time to time a taxi hoots like an owl.

But behind the ramparts of the Louvre
Freud has dredged the river and, grinning horribly, waves his garbage in a glare of electricity.


———They moan and yell and squeak
———Like a thousand tom-cats in rut.

The whores like lions are seeking their meat from God:


Hope Mirrlees’ ‘Paris’ was published in 1920 by The Hogarth Press, Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s publishing venture. ‘Paris’ follows a wanderer in the city from morning to the following dawn (the extract here is at nightfall), taking in text from advertising hoarding’s, tomb stones, and the printed music of sacred song – what could be more archetypally Modernist?

‘Paris’ is a fun, diverting read, very much of its time; it’s satire on the banal verdicts of (American) tourists on European culture can be compared to E.E. Cummings’ ‘Memorabilia‘, which gets to work on Venice, and was published six years later on the other side of the Atlantic.

Mirlees is now described as a ‘forgotten female modernist’, or FFM; certainly, her texts aren’t widely available. First hearing of it from a friend, the text I’ve read is a facsimile PDF on From my quick search, this seems to be the only poetry by her available online, making it seem all the more startling and singular.

[The photo, dated sixteen years earlier but a pretty representative shot of the bouquinistes, was ripped from here.]