Frances Horovitz

Thank you to everyone who has wished me well in my new course (please see Back To School post below). I’m looking forward to sharing some of my reading writing and learning experiences here in 2013.

I was browsing the stats for this blog and one of the  search terms used to arrive here was ‘trying to find roy marshall’. I had a chuckle; I may not be the Roy Marshall in question, but the search term might make a good title for these pages.

I received a brilliant surprise present yesterday; Collected Poems by Frances Horovitz. A very thoughtful person had read Neil Astley’s comment that my poem ‘Relic’ reminded him of the work of the late poet and bought this Bloodaxe collection.

The book is full of rhythmic, delicate but memorable poems. Some of them feel a bit like snowflakes landing and melting into cold kisses on the forehead. Despite their delicacy they cling and burn softly. All have a sparse clarity and all are memorable after a first reading.

The last poems and fragments, written after her diagnosis (she died of cancer at the age of forty-five) include a letter to her son Adam, himself now a poet, which speaks of her love for him. There is impressive bravery, a determination to notice and hold the beauty of life to the last. There is also a wonderful serenity and acceptance in these last poems, a transcendent knowledge that

The hills also will pass away
will remain
as this lilac light, these blue bells,
the good dark of this room.


It was the ‘good’ that struck me in this poem.

Francis Horovitz was also a fine broadcaster and performer of poetry. The collection contains a CD of Frances reading a selection of her poems and an interview which I am looking forward to listening to.

On the cover James Wood of The Times quotes John Updike’s appreciation of Wallace Stevens : ‘What a good use of life, to leave behind one beautiful book”.’

Here are two of her shorter poems


a mirror hangs in the apple tree
‘photograph of no one’
says the child

as a wind blows
and sky lies shattered
in the wet grass

Resolution at the New Year

Children drag home through dusk,
week-old snow brown in hedgerows,
a full moon slices the wood.

Somewhere spring is gathering its green,
star gives place to climbing star
(they too have grown older).

I shall not be careless this year:
I shall not forget to see the wild garlic blossom
-as I did last May, and the May before.

One comment

  1. Thanks, Roy, for reminding me about the poetry of Frances Horovitz. I was always attracted to her work but it’s years since I’ve looked at it. Seeing these examples has prompted me to order the Collected Poems.


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