The Choir Outing, By Nigel Forde

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The Independent Culture

Nigel Forde's poetry is, as the Hungarian-born peer George Szirtes says, "deeply English". These poems are mostly in a supple blank verse, sometimes decorated with rhyme; there are allusions to Shakespeare, Hardy, Keats and Herrick; and they are filled with images of the English countryside: streams, woods, owls, blackbirds, buddleia, moths, squirrels, rivers, moons and stars – lots of stars.

Forde also has a fascination with science (sunlight is "photons from a G-type star") and music. There is a sequence of poems from the wives of great composers, including a witty snippet from Xavia, John Cage's wife: "I said to him, 'Can't you keep quiet for just five minutes?'/ He couldn't."

His themes are nostalgia, longing, love, memory, the passage of time, and the strangeness of being a thinking, feeling creature in a world ruled by scientific laws. In the musicality of the verse, the sense of place, the obsession with the intertwining of past and present, and the frequent use of "we" ("We search for meaning in the void"), these poems are reminiscent of TS Eliot's Four Quartets. Take this book with you on a long train journey through the English countryside, and enjoy yourself.