Our slow-green hair has grown. Samson sings
in the loosening links of his brick chain,
ancient tunes of sewage, wave, and drains.
We abrade the runs they lace us through
we swell, we pound; soon otters, willow,
dace and cress below the human landscape
shall burst into their money rooms and break
their fishbone combs, their bead-pearl cufflinks,
coins duller than carp scales, empty wells of ink.
Bonds shall be broken, mussels prise the pyx.
Fish shall dine on floating boards, and silver-fixing
conclaves shall be lunch for oyster and clam.
City pavements tremble over our premature tomb;
the sky empowers us, we fatten, wax, grow bold.
We shall reclaim vaults, gild our snails with gold,
slew filth through their halls. We shall share nothing.
by Marianne Burton
‘The River Flowing Under The Bank of England Dreams of Power’ is copyright © Marianne Burton, 2013. It is reprinted from She Inserts the Key, published by Seren Books in 2013.
Notes from Seren:
Marianne Burton studied law at Oxford and qualified as a solicitor. She worked in the City specializing in advising Friendly Societies, and as a director on the board of a pharmaceutical company. She has a first class degree in Literature from the Open University and a Creative Writing MA from Royal Holloway where she studied with Andrew Motion and Jo Shapcott. In 2010 she was tutored at Ty Newydd by Gillian Clarke and Carol Ann Duffy who encouraged her to put together her first collection. Her poems have been widely published in top literary journals including Poetry Wales, Poetry London, and the Times Literary Supplement. Her pamphlet, The Devils’ Cut, was a Poetry Book Society choice in 2007. She has won and been placed in many competitions including Mslexia, TLS, Edwin Morgan, Bridport, and Cardiff. Her work has also appeared in USA outlets such as Poetry Daily, the CSM and Broadlands: Texas Poetry Review. The book from which this poem is taken, She Inserts the Key, was today shortlisted for the 2013 Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection, one of the Forward Prizes for Poetry.
Writing about her work, Andrew Motion has observed that ‘Marianne Burton’s poems combine grace with intelligence, toughness with delicacy, and thoughtfulness with sensuality. This means her work is full of surprising challenges and reconciliations – all of which bring rich rewards to the reader.’ You can read further selections from the book on the Seren website.
Seren Books (‘Seren’ means ‘star’ in Welsh) is based in Bridgend, South Wales. Originally conceived by Cary Archard and Dannie Abse as an offshoot of Poetry Wales magazine in the latter’s garage in Ogmore-by-Sea in the early 80s, under Managing Editor Mick Felton the press has gone from strength to strength and has published a wide range of titles including fiction (which under Editor Penny Thomas has seen the Booker-nominated novel by Patrick McGuinness, The Last Hundred Days, and an acclaimed novella series based on the medieval Welsh tales from the Mabinogion) and non-fiction (including literary criticism such as the new John Redmond title Poetry and Privacy, as well as sumptuous art books like the collaboration between photographer David Hurn and poet John Fuller, Writing the Picture). Seren’s poetry list, edited by Amy Wack since the early 90s, has produced T.S. Eliot Prize-nominated titles by Deryn Rees-Jones and Pascale Petit, Costa winner John Haynes, and a large list of Forward Prize winners and nominees, as well as continuing to publishing classic Welsh writers. Most recently, Seren has also added Irish and American writers to its list.
For more details about Seren, visit the publisher’s website, where there is a blog about Seren’s news and events. You can also find Seren on Facebook, on Twitter, and on YouTube, where there are videos of a number of poets reading from their work.
Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.