Fleur Adcock

Fleur Adcock Selected Poems and The Virgin and the Nightingale: Medieval Latin Poems were published last year.

Poem: ‘Iphis’

Fleur Adcock, 7 April 1994

(Ovid, Metamorphoses, IX, 666-797)

But that’s nothing to what happened in Crete. Once upon a time there was a man called Ligdus, from near Knossos – a nobody, but freeborn, honourable and decent. His wife was pregnant. When her time was close, this is what he told her: ‘I pray for two things: a painless labour for you, and a son. Girls are more trouble, and I can’t...

Poem: ‘Summer in Bucharest’

Fleur Adcock, 16 August 1990

We bought raspberries in the market; but raspberries are discredited:

they sag in their bag, fermenting into a froth of suspect juice.

And strawberries are seriously compromised: a taint – you must have heard the stories.

As for red currants, well, they say the only real red currants are dead.

(Don’t you believe it: the fields are full of them, swelling hopefully on their twigs,


Two Poems

Fleur Adcock, 8 February 1990


Suddenly it’s gone public; it rushed outinto the light like a train out of a tunnel.People I’ve met are faces in the government,shouting on television, looking older.

A man who came to see me once, for breakfastat my hotel, and was dazzlingly indiscreetabout the system – there, in front of the waiters –is Head of Broadcasting this week.

The country sizzles with...

Poem: ‘Central Time’

Fleur Adcock, 4 September 1986

‘The time is nearly one o’clock, or half-past twelve in Adelaide’ – where the accents aren’t quite so ... Australian as in the other states, the ones that were settled (not their fault, of course) by convicts. We had Systematic Colonisation, and Colonel Light, and the City of Adelaide Plan. We have the Park Lands.

It’s time for the news at 1.30 – one...

Poem: ‘The Keepsake’

Fleur Adcock, 6 September 1984

In memory of Pete Laver

‘To Fleur from Pete, on loan perpetual.’ It’s written on the flyleaf of the book I wouldn’t let you give away outright: ‘Just make it permanent loan,’ I said – a joke between librarians, professional jargon. It seemed quite witty, on a night

when most things passed for wit. We were all hoarse by then, from laughing at the bits...

Imagining the Suburbs

Stan Smith, 9 January 1992

Whole systems of thought have been founded on the French language’s inability to distinguish differing from deferring. Perhaps Napoleon is to blame (‘Not tonight, Josephine’)....

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