From the December Issue
One voice was picking itself off the floor,
another was ringing bells at the front door,
a third was shouting nonsense. There were more.
The voice of the old woman on the stairs,
the voice of Goldilocks and the Three Bears,
the voice of the man minding his own affairs.
The voice that held itself like a frail glass,
the voices on the train that we watched pass,
the breaking voice at the back of the class.
It was the night. A crowd of voices. Streets
with dogs and poor, the barks and brays and bleats,
reiterations, cries, endless repeats.
We heard the voices speaking very low,
familiar voices that we didn’t know,
the voice that stuck, the voice that once let go.
Let go, the voice said. Letting go is best.
Stray lines, the overheard, the voice addressed,
and so into the night with all the rest.
George Szirtes was born in Budapest in 1948 and came to England as a refugee in 1956. He was brought up in London and studied Fine Art in London and Leeds. His poems began appearing in national magazines in 1973 and his first book, The Slant Door, was published in 1979. It won the Faber Memorial prize the following year. By this time he was married with two children. After the publication of his second book, November and May, 1982, he was invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Since then he has published several books and won various other prizes including the T S Eliot Prize for Reel in 2005.