Some favourite passages:
...raising the head, learning wisdom
in a form of desire, a distance to be gained, learning to wait,
absence of question-marks, Orphic stasis.
...wood smoke drifting across the fields
dividing thought between love and duty
Tell me-- how from the vast emptiness of the million words
the short phrase strikes the bone between the eyes,
tell me how the world is altered, so little
tell me as little as possible, tell me falsetto
tell me all night--
Then sustain it, tell me
what you have, lost or left
in a language beautifully linked
that you could tell the links one by one
like the links in a silver chain, a silver
tested and coined, fixed in the moon's side,
over the end of the world
and we'll get there, reach
the flowered arbor, the chambered tomb
crawl into it and read the stone
with difficulty (about honour). Then answer
Where are you from?
Tenant farmers above Halifax,
world of clarts and slopstone
and the rain singing in the yard.
from "I: Housman's Question"
And another child is born,
somnolent in white lace
and always welcome (what
is a sky without a star in it?) 1830s urban
infant mortality rate 50% (what is a sky
without a soul in it?) soul tugging at
soul under a black sky.
stations built of overlapping chords, where we
laid our heads on the hard wooden benches and
dreamed our own cathedrals, man woman and child.
from "II: A Lost Patrimony"
...as the year points to the stars chattering
in the morning sky with a lark's clarity, the stars fading away.
As I came into this world far from
any centre, pratensis "of the fields" so I
moved out, seeking a hand in darkness as
a child against the wandering fires in the night fields
learning to breathe in the world's fullness
a single truth, that held a dying hand, far from any centre.
...consolation for a life of dread
as death is warmed to.
...under the kestrel's path we moved
out and back, seasonally or daily,
going to Marks & Spencer's for a shirt
well beyond the northern limits of the nightingale.
...and wafts us out of our indulgences
to the waking place, the narrow cot, the birthing light
not far from the duties. Or Elektra's
from "III: The Generations. The Dispersals. Funeral Duties"