Just a few selections from the only poet I've found I read for pleasure, semi-regularly.
Sometimes tarred as a misanthropic and hateful old lech, it's worth remembering that a lot has changed since the decade (1920s) he was born into.
Thwaite's cream 2001 edition of Collected Poems linked from this page is the one I own, and more comprehensive than some others with the same title. It's a good idea to check what you're getting, because the situation confuses sites and sellers.
Delay, well, travellers must expect Delay. For how long? No one seems to know. With all the luggage weighed, the tickets checked, It can't be long... We amble too and fro, Sit in steel chairs, buy cigarettes and sweets And tea, unfold the papers. Ought we to smile, Perhaps make friends? No: in the race for seats You're best alone. Friendship is not worth while. Six hours pass: if I'd gone by boat last night I'd be there now. Well, it's too late for that. The kiosk girl is yawning. I fell stale, Stupified, by inaction - and, as light Begins to ebb outside, by fear, I set So much on this Assumption. Now it's failed.
When I was a child, I thought, Casually, that solitude Never needed to be sought. Something everybody had, Like nakedness, it lay at hand, Not specially right or specially wrong, A plentiful and obvious thing Not at all hard to understand. Then, after twenty, it became At once more difficult to get And more desired - though all the same More undesirable; for what You are alone has, to achieve The rank of fact, to be expressed In terms of others, or it's just A compensating make-believe. Much better stay in company! To love you must have someone else, Giving requires a legatee, Good neighbours need whole parishfuls Of folk to do it on - in short, Our virtues are all social; if, Deprived of solitude, you chafe, It's clear you're not the virtuous sort. Viciously, then, I lock my door. The gas-fire breathes. The wind outside Ushers in evening rain. Once more Uncontradicting solitude Supports me on its giant palm; And like a sea-anemone Or simple snail, there cautiously Unfolds, emerges, what I am.
The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found A hedgehog jammed up against the blades, Killed. It had been in the long grass. I had seen it before, and even fed it, once. Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world Unmendably. Burial was no help: Next morning I got up and it did not. The first day after a death, the new absence Is always the same; we should be careful Of each other, we should be kind While there is still time.
In this dream that dogs me I am part Of a silent crowd walking under a wall, Leaving a football match, perhaps, or a pit, All moving the same way. After a while A second wall closes on our right, Pressing us tighter. We are now shut in Like pigs down a concrete passage. When I lift My head, I see the walls have killed the sun, And light is cold. Now a giant whitewashed D Comes on the second wall, but much too high For them to recognise: I await the E, Watch it approach and pass. By now We have ceased walking and travel Like water through sewers, steeply, despite The tread that goes on ringing like an anvil Under the striding A. I crook My arm to shield my face, for we must pass Beneath the huge, decapitated cross, White on the wall, the T, and I cannot halt The tread, the beat of it, it is my own heart, The walls of my room rise, it is still night, I have woken again before the word was spelt.
Most people know more as they get older: I give all that the cold shoulder. I spent my second quarter-century Losing what I had learnt at university And refusing to take in what had happened since. Now I know none of the names in the public prints, And am starting to give offence by forgetting faces And swearing Ive never been in certain places. It will be worth it, if in the end I manage To blank out whatever it is that is doing the damage. Then there will be nothing I know My mind will fold into itself, like fields, like snow.
They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had And add some extra, just for you. But they were fucked up in their turn By fools in old-style hats and coats, Who half the time were soppy-stern And half at one another's throats. Man hands on misery to man. It deepens like a coastal shelf. Get out as early as you can, And don't have any kids yourself.
This is the first thing I have understood: Time is the echo of an axe Within a wood.
To put one brick upon another, Add a third and then a forth, Leaves no time to wonder whether What you do has any worth. But to sit with bricks around you While the winds of heaven bawl Weighing what you should or can do Leaves no doubt of it at all.
My wife and I have asked a crowd of craps To come and waste their time and ours: perhaps You'd care to join us? In a pig's arse, friend. Day comes to an end. The gas fire breathes, the trees are darkly swayed. And so Dear Warlock-Williams: I'm afraid-- Funny how hard it is to be alone. I could spend half my evenings, if I wanted, Holding a glass of washing sherry, canted Over to catch the drivel of some bitch Who's read nothing but Which; Just think of all the spare time that has flown Straight into nothingness by being filled With forks and faces, rather than repaid Under a lamp, hearing the noise of wind, And looking out to see the moon thinned To an air-sharpened blade. A life, and yet how sternly it's instilled All solitude is selfish. No one now Believes the hermit with his gown and dish Talking to God (who's gone too); the big wish Is to have people nice to you, which means Doing it back somehow. Virtue is social. Are, then, these routines Playing at goodness, like going to church? Something that bores us, something we don't do well (Asking that ass about his fool research) But try to feel, because, however crudely, It shows us what should be? Too subtle, that. Too decent, too. Oh hell, Only the young can be alone freely. The time is shorter now for company, And sitting by a lamp more often brings Not peace, but other things. Beyond the light stand failure and remorse Whispering Dear Warlock-Williams: Why, of course--