and other poems
William Oxley was born in Manchester. A poet and philosopher, he has also worked as accountant. part-time gardener, and actor. At present he divides his time between London and South Devon. His poems have been widely published throughout the world, in magazines and journals as diverse as The New York Times and The Formalist (USA), The Scotsman, New Statesman, The London Magazine, Stand, The Independent, The Spectator and The Observer.
Following the publication of a number of his works on the Continent in the ’eighties and ’nineties, he was dubbed ‘Britain’s first Europoet’ He has read his work on UK and European radio and is the only British poet to have read in Shangri-la, (Nepal). Among his books of poetry have been Collected Longer Poems (Salzburg University Press, 1994), and Reclaiming the Lyre: New and Selected Poems (Rockingham Press, 2001).
A former member of the General Council of the Poetry Society, he is consultant editor of Acumen magazine and co-founder of the Torbay Poetry Festival. In 1995 he edited the anthology Completing The Picture for Stride. The founder of the Long Poem Group, he co-edited its newsletter for several years; and in 1999 his autobiography No Accounting for Paradise came from Rockingham Press.
He was Millennium Year poet-in-residence for Torbay in Devon. A limited edition print employing lines from his epic, A Map of Time, was chosen by the Dept. of Cartography, University of Wisconsin to use, with appropriate illustration, in their Annual Broadsheet for 2002.
Another of his long poems, Over the Hills of Hampstead, was awarded first prize by the on-line long poem magazine, Echoes of Gilgamesh. He has co-edited the anthology Modern Poets of Europe (Spiny Babbler, Nepal 2004). In 2004, Hearing Eye published Namaste, his Nepal poems, and Bluechrome published his London Visions in Spring 2005.
A study of his poetry, The Romantic Imagination, came out in 2005 from Poetry Salzburg. A fine, limited edition of his Poems Antibes, illustrated by Frances Wilson, was launched in Antibes, Côte d’Azur in December 2006.
In 2008 he received the Torbay ArtsBase Award for Literature. His latest collections are Sunlight in a Champagne Glass (Rockingham Press 2009), ISCA – Exeter Moments – (Ember Press 2013), Poems from the Divan of Hafez (trans. From the Persian with Parvin Loloi) (Acumen Publications 2013), Collected and New Poems (Rockingham Press 2014).
Walking Sequence and other poems
Indigo Dreams Publishing
138 x 216mm
£6.00 + P&P UK
PUB: August 2015
Selections from Walking Sequence
A Walk of Mind
Alight from the train at Starcross (holy name!),
follow the empty lane beside Powderham park
with its Chinese deer and bullrushed stream:
a lane of flowered profusion below one wall
and on the other side a wild silver estuary,
oil-painted tributary of the swaying sea.
Then, thirty minutes or so later, by a church
(brownred among trees) cross the railway at
a whistle-stop and ascend high banked path
that ribbons on next the narrowing rivermouth
where herring gulls and herons, oystercatchers
ceaselessly farm salt-griddled, wave-marked crud,
dark mud, forever splicing and unsplicing
seaweed, green, crinkly brown and stone-sieved.
A long reflective ramble beneath
the cranium of Devon – skies placid or rancid,
both masculine and feminine at once, like Heaven.
And after The Turf Lock Hotel, a white wedge
where waterways meet, estuary and canal,
a liquid Via Appia leading to the city,
lined by reeds and lily pads of summer yellow,
shy mysterious beauty, an aquatic imponderableness
in its mirrorlike meandering memory.
Take the walk from Starcross sometime.
Stop by for a drink at the Double Locks' pub.
Go on, on through Exeter's slowly gathering suburbs,
to the old port, not much of a port now,
rather the dead end of another time preserved
in this present-future for 'something to see':
a great boatless basin beneath a cathedral hill.
And though tired by the all of ten miles
you will have tramped, uplifted too you'll find
for that flat long walk is a walk of mind.
It is Foxglove City, a fairy-favoured place
I believe in. Into digitalis time. Warfarin,
etc. Many believe the walk (which one?)
is a walk into health. No, I don't believe that.
I believe only in the walk into joy.
On the lane a dead seagull, maggoty.
On the path a worm like an old shoelace.
On the path like black talc, pure dust of summer.
On the path a squashed beetle, black shield.
On the lane, hot sun, thermals of joy.
No amount of reality, however unpleasant,
can prove that all life is not joy.
For the truth is: nothing could go on
without that central, intellectually-perplexing
joy – despair's antidote or whatever.
We stride like light into enlightenment.
Jade Green River
Public footpaths. Wooden signs like arms.
Stiles, some stylish, some simply crude.
Walks down dawn-blue lanes, across farms’
alloyed earth, fields cattle-stewed,
noxious, yet in a mostly acceptable way.
And the River Dart’s settled presence
a jade-green river through the day
that shrinks with regular tidal absence
then returns foaming to elbow muddy banks
where, either side, the massed trees lean.
River that dominates South Devon, its flanks
threaded with ways to walk and see it gleam.
Parallel stroll to our journey, outer
reflection of inner: a god’s walk off water.
Like many poets, such as Wordsworth, the author of Walking Sequence and other poems has found that walking sets up a rhythm which often turns into the act of verbal creation. The poet and his wife, and two close friends, walked one hot summer's day from Starcross to Exeter: a walk that is celebrated in this collection and which attracted to it intensive memories of other walks the poet had taken.
Whether trekking up to the Stupa of Peace above Pokhara in Nepal, 'Walking with words' in Paris, or observing with a friend hikers in the Alpes Maritimes as 'white legs walking', the perambulatory act has always been for Oxley both a source of inspiration and communion with nature.
The Daymark at Brownstone
Shall I forget you
booming among the cornstalks
in the tired summer air?
The corn there sweeping
down to the Devon sea
crows and buzzards and gulls
inhabiting a majestic
sky. Me leaning on a stile
surrounded by word-bird song
and you camera-conning the scene
as near heaven
as we could get that day.
Under the long-legged
giant of stone, a cross-less church
without walls designed
to draw the sailor's eye
to undulating, tractor-traced
land, the three of you stood,
friends, the whole human race
to me, as I leaned
on that salt-bleached stile
in a blackthorn hedge
where thrift, campion, celandine
streaked verges older than time.
Older than time
this scene bloated with summer –
happiness, a starched fraction
of yacht stuck far out beyond
bent cliff-top trees, and a breeze
like sun's out-breathing
moving across my vision
caressing you, whistling mildly
through the tall triangulation
of the daymark where you stood,
loved in the scintillating gateway
of joy, my heart.
You the man, big,
booming your pleasure among cornstalks
pollen and goldust of
that joy you felt before
the sweeping love of nature,
the quiet twinkle of women
beside you ...
Daymark: conical structure of stone without walls, an artificial landmark for ships to take their bearings by, at Brownstone near Dartmouth.
The rare white rock rose in some
hidden corner drawing on
its own sweet-mulched soil;
the ringing bells of sea campion
in the blue sea winds of summer.
The trifling linnet balancing on a
fan of fern, and where the hot
rock ledge is out of reach a fulmar
rests and nests. This is Berry Head
facing fox and badger country
behind, and in front, the far
bright bracelet of the sea.