Cover

CONTENTS

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Dedication

Title Page

Caveat

Dumnonia

Submerged Forest

Cave Bear

Clapper Bridge

Urn-Burial

Rougemont

Devonport

Emmaus

Love-Letter to Vincent

Yellow Room at Arles

Still Life with Red Herring

Sprig of Almond Blossom in a Glass

Pear Tree in Blossom

Sunflowers

Sunflowers

Starry Night

Portrait with a Bandaged Ear

Irises / (Coda)

The Alyscamps (Leaf-Fall)

Place du Forum

Wheatfields, Wild Horses

Salvage

Poem for James

Zitherixon Idol

Prayer

Sheep

High Meadow Path

Toboggan Run

Lares

Soundings

Brew

Childbed

Repairs

Milk Fever

Breastfeeding

Council Offices

Visitations

Cradle Cap

Tentsmuir

Demeter

Pine Cone

Small Mercies

River, Second Miscarriage

Foetal Pole

Rosebay Willowherb

Daughter Song

Notes & Acknowledgements

Copyright

ABOUT THE BOOK

In this remarkable, intensely moving, first collection, Fiona Benson shows her fascination with human experience. The poems move on archaeological fast-forward from submerged Devonian forests and a Paleolithic cave-bear skull to the site of decommissioned submarines at HMNB Devonport, where the sea is ‘still a torpedo-path, / an Armageddon road’. She explores the shared human continuum of bodily longing – from the Prehistoric maker of a wooden fertility fetish, to a modern-day couple wading through summer pollen – and the timeless cycles of conception, birth and child-rearing.

A central sequence of dramatic monologues addressed to Van Gogh allows for a focussed exploration of depression, violence, passion and creativity. In these poems, as in all the poems in this impressive debut, we feel keenly the sense of life lived at the edge of threat – catastrophe, even – but also on the cusp of beauty and happiness. Other poems about the bewildering loss of miscarriage are hard to read and impossible to forget, moving with grace and authority through great grief to arrive at a hard-won destination of selfless, unqualified love.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Fiona Benson won an Eric Gregory Award in 2006 and a Faber New Poets Award in 2009. She lives near Exeter with her partner and their daughter.

Bright Travellers

Fiona Benson

 

This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted inwriting by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

This book is dedicated to David-Antoine Williams,
with thanks for all his years of careful reading and criticism,
and to my husband James Meredith
and our daughter Isla with all my love

CAVEAT

But consider the cactus:

its thick hide

and parched aspect

 

still harbour a moist heart;

nick its rind, and sap

wells up like sugared milk

 

from the store of water

held beneath its spines,

its armoury of barbs.

 

And, once a lifetime,

when the slant rains fall