Laureate duties for a while eclipsed Andrew Motion's subtle and shifting light as a poet of quietly elegiac passion. The title poem of his latest collection evokes a painting by Spencer Gore; of that symbolic track, Motion writes that "you might say death/ but I prefer taking/ pains with the world".
He does exactly that. A self-acknowledged heir to Thomas Hardy or Edward Thomas, Motion keeps his own voice true and sharp.
Across its varied landscapes, The Cinder Path still dwells most on scenes of war and mourning, in the noble poems inspired by 1914-18 veteran Harry Patch or the closing virtuoso sequence that summons a father "who never knew what hit him" and the trauma of D-Day.