Seren Poets 2

‘Seren Books’ is book imprint of ‘Poetry Wales Press’, Bridgend: ‘Seren Poets 2’ 1990, is the second volume in the ‘Seren Poets’ series which aimed to introduce new poets to a wider audience. Graham gained inclusion by winning the ‘Seren New Poet’s Competition. The other poets included here are Vuyelwa Carlin, Donald Evans and Simon Rae. It is Graham’s first, shared collection. Graham’s prize-winning poem is a sequence, ‘Miron’s Dreams’ (pp.57-71).

‘The Miron poems originate in Graham’s annual trip to Eisenberg, in Southern Germany. Miron himself was a Ukrainian who had spent the war there, labouring in the farm of a benevolent German family. Graham was fascinated to find a foreign labourer whose experience “was outside the mainstream of brutality we rightly recall from the war…I was concerned that someone had lived there and disappeared”.

… if, as Pasternak believed, or so I have read, each has a soul,

immortal, which we leave outside, to the remembering,

our lives, our selves, passed on outside, in others,

then you lost your soul here, Miron, and I cannot give it back;

but one thing we never know, none of us, we have in common –

sleeping under the same roof forty years later, I dream here too:

so, Miron, I will give back some dreams, not yours, not mine,

just something made-up, give them to you as a shadow which won’t fit,

no matter, anyone seeing it will know you were here

[from poem i]


I dreamt I had a little child,

playing Hoppe Hoppe Reiter

bouncing my knees for him

and opening them. He fell through.

I made a swing for him,

two iron twists in the beam end

of the barn, rope stolen,

plank seat, I swung him back

let go, and the seat was empty,

I made a sledge for him,

climbed the snow bank

right to the top, sat with him

clutching, his little hands

on my coat sleeve, tight.

I do not understand, but somewhere,

before the slope’s foot he vanished.

I dreamt I had a little child

took him to be with me,

so he would not go

I dreamt with him,

held him close all night,

and woke with no one beside me.

I dreamt I had a child

I took him in my arms

held tight and breathed in

tighter, and tighter, till a band

of iron held us in my chest.

He does not leave me.

[from poem v]