Peter Hughes’ Soft Rush

Soft Rush 
Peter Hughes is a poet, painter and the founding editor of Oystercatcher Press. He was born in Oxford in 1956, based in Italy for many years and now lives on the Norfolk coast. He is the author of over a dozen books of poetry which include Nistanimera, The Sardine Tree, The Summer of Agios Dimitrios, Behoven and The Pistol Tree Poems. Nathan Thompson has described the latter as “flickering, intense, innovative and utterly mesmerising”.
Peter’s Selected Poems, drawing on work from over 30 years, will by published by Shearsman in April. This coincides with the publication, by the same press, of ‘An intuition of the particular’: Some essays on the poetry of Peter Hughes, which is edited by Ian Brinton. 2013 also sees the publication, by Reality Street, of Allotment Architecture.
More information about Peter’s poetry and his press, Oystercatcher, can be found at his website.
Soft Rush (The Red Ceilings Press, 2013) consists of 30 versions of Petrarch’s sonnets, numbers 67 to 96. It forms part of  an ongoing series in which Peter Hughes is creating ‘translations’ (in the broadest sense of the word) of all Petrarch’s sonnets. John Hall has written of Hughes’ work:
“Read it, in the expectation of any number of lyrical pleasures, for the ear, for the play of line against continuous movement, for its celebration of remembered pleasures, for its good will and for its wit. By this last, I mean a mind in evidence in the poems that can constantly surprise itself in the turns of speech, that can dance in the syllables and still have world and experience in its sights.”
Tony Fraser, on the Shearsman website, refers to Peter Hughes as “one of the UK’s most interesting and unclassifiable poets.”
3 / 69
Erano i capei d’oro a l’aura sparsi
a deft breeze slightly lifted surprising
qualities of fair hair woven with light
from her eyes extensive swathes of elsewhere
via memory into now where she is not
to be forgotten is the fate of all
living creatures hint at the angelic
harmonising language equals silence
echoes in dark chambers of our hearts
& if I say she moved like Bill Evans played
you’ll hear the subtlest of accompaniments
which compliment the voices of the world
where weird late sun slants downwards through storm clouds
out over a desolate valley road
we’ll walk unaccompanied tomorrow
6 / 72
Più volte Amor m’avea già detto: Scrivi
it is often love that sings the pen is
greater than the sane or diplomatic
in the middle of the night this neon
clamour plays & drives heaven’s dark heart wild
to wake up on the street in gentle rain
without a world in your care is the fate
of those who dive from the cliff into love
where we landed & paddle in morning
life’s too short to be a conservative
& art too deep in the merely current
we ride on the bows of the bright & free
who has redelivered us to language
& redelivered language to our hearts
well write out your own list & let me know
11 / 77
Orso, al vostro destrier si pò ben porre
I know I could have been a contender
billowing proudly in the field of dreams
my little pennant waving in the breeze
past all the sulky guards in silky tights
someone always comes & cuts the guy-ropes
makes off with the poles & we’re blown away
flapping up & over the hedgerows at dusk
discarded wrappers of our destinies
& we look back from the borders of night
out on the cold edge of the atmosphere
to green & distant fields of long ago
our emblem a small yellow rectangle
of damp & famished turf embellished with
colonies of red & wiry bloodworms
14 / 80
Lasso, ben so che dolorose prede
I think you’ll find the world will let us go
calmly with whatever grace we leave it
& it’s given that each of us will fall
through personal doors into no autumn
I think you’ll find the world will let us go
treading with care as in a dream of say
this taut prelude & fugue in A minor
BWV 889 which still
escapes from the litter of time & leaves
a garden on the other side of death
while we live on this other side of death
I think you’ll find the world will let us go
our structures sifted back into the seed
beds of our time & love & timelessness
17 / 83
L’aspecta vertù, che ‘n voi fioriva
rather than knock up another statue
to be ruined by pigeons & spray-paint
as well as acid rain & student pranks
that might leave you brandishing a dildo
you’d be better off encouraging me
to write about how wonderful you are
how you’re the perfect Lord of Rimini
to be lauded through all eternity
like Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood
1973 (for long thought lost)
winner of the Grandma’s Attic award
at the Eerie Horror Film Festival
& another illustration of how
no-one escapes from the tunnel of love
from Soft Rush (The Red Ceilings Press, 2013).
Order Soft Rush.
Visit Peter’s website.

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