Monday, February 6, 2012

Cliff Ashby

Cliff Ashby is a British poet born in 1919. He is not well-known, yet is able to attract the enthusiastic admiration of critics. His first collection In the Vulgar Tongue appeared in 1968. Martin Seymour-Smith said in 1975 that Cliff Ashby is "Probably the most powerful, spare poet of his generation..."

His recent chapbook Few Late Flowers (2008) was praised by Robert Nye in The Scotsman: "Ashby is hardly yet a household name, but he ought to be, at least among those who care for poetry. He has just published what must be the most remarkable swansong offered by a writer in their 89th year..." In 2009 the same publisher, HappenStance Press, released Sampler. Hopefully this blog will familiarize a few more avid readers of poetry with the work of this fine writer. Donald Davie shared the work of Ashby in The New Oxford Book of Christian Verse, including the following poem.

A Stranger in this Land

Lord, I am lonely
And the sun is shining
Listless, while the wind
Shakes the aging leaves.
The harvest has been gathered
All is bagged and barned,
Silos burst with grain.
Why, Lord, must I still stand
Dropping blind seeds
On to a barren soil?

Come, sweet Jesus, cut me down
With the sickle of your mercy,
For I am lonely
And a stranger in this land.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: