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(Selection. See http://www.spanglefish.com/vetterlein/index.asp?pageid=236681 for further details on other titles.)
Rückblick II: (ISBN 978-14259-7449-7)
A selection of my poems entitled Rückblick was first published for private distribution in March 2001. At that time I had produced a number of collections of poems for private circulation.
In 2004 it was suggested I might extend Rückblick to include work written since 2001. I had the idea of a selection to contain only those works written since Rückblick and which I was to call The Old Voices.
The possibility of offering these poems to a wider readership caused me to reconsider the original plan. Accordingly, I have put together a selection from all the poems written up to May 2005. Since this book retains most of Rückblick intact, I have decided to name the present work
Rückblick - looking back (Brahms used the word for the fourth movement of his Sonata in F minor, Opus 5) - contains poems already published. It is my alternative title for the somewhat hackneyed “Selected Poems”. They are the most satisfactory things I have done from my perspective. This is not to imply they are the “best”, whatever that might mean.
With over a thousand poems from which to choose, the task has not been an easy one. (Reading poetry simply reinforces for me what fickle creatures we are.) It has all been carefully thought through (that much is to be hoped for at least). There is no saying, however, that I won’t have a different mind of the matter tomorrow.
From page 34:
What has to be, has already been
I was here from the start, alone;
From page 78:
Edging closer to hell
There’s a subdued feel to the sky this morning.
Jupiter, in Cancer, struggling
The islands huddle together,
Saturn, its rings opening to the full,
We, down below, edge
From page 90:
A blackbird swallows a worm,
Cobbett's Field:( ISBN 978-14343-5286-6)
Cobbett's Field was first published for private circulation in 1997. Since then it has been through four revisions.
With the present edition (for general sale) five poems have been omitted since they are now available in Rückblick II. However, there is some duplication in the case of four poems which also appear in War (2007). Moreover, a handful of poems with a war theme appear here that are not included in War.
Ten poems have been added to the original content. There has also been some readjustment to the order of presentation.
Introduction to the First Edition
Reading poetry simply reinforces for me what fickle creatures we are.
I have had my way with the presentation as with the words themselves. It has all been carefully thought through (that much is to be hoped for at least). There is no saying, however, that I won’t have a different mind of the matter tomorrow.
I had wanted this selection to be representative, but then nothing can be that without exposing the entire corpus - an unthinkable act.
From page 54:
Sharpening the scythe,
Portrait of the author: oils on board - London 1956, Gordon Stuart*.
With the kind consent of the artitst.
North Window (ISBN: 978 –1-4520-8935-5)
My small band of devoted followers sometimes ask me to publish a comprehensive edition of the poems. I am unable to do that; instead, I offer another mixed bag.
I have produced several collections of poems, mostly for private distribution. In 2007 both WAR and Ruckblick II were published for general sale by AuthorHouse. My very first set of published poems—Cobbett's Field (1997)—was re-issued for general sale in 2007. Ruckblick II (2006) contained a selection drawn from some one thousand poems written over the past fifty years or so.
North Window (the title taken from a single poem hitherto published privately) contains a selection from poems written up to 2009 (but excluding anything from Cobbett’s Field, Ruckblick II or War).
The two photographs are from a period when, as a young man, I held out some hope for a kinder world. My occupation then was as pharmacy porter in the London Chest Hospital, Bethnal Green, a post I held for twenty-eight months in part as an alternative to military National Service, and at the direction of a tribunal set up to investigate conscientious objectors. Since then greed and vanity have propelled us all into an even more precarious position.
At the time of the first photograph, I was residing close by at 84 Guildford Street (the house since demolished); the second (from a few months later) at 37 Lloyd Baker Street, with Mr & Mrs Bunyan. The photographs were taken by my life-long friend, the writer Alan Denson.
I look back on those times with considerable affection.
I imagine the North Window at night
I imagine the North Window on winter nights,
I imagine the North Window in summer’s full heat
I imagine it inside that cold, damp building
A deckchair experience
The demand for housing
The confines of my narrow bed
On leaving the parental nest
And so it has been narrow beds
This is where I once lived
I see it today by way of Google Maps
John Vetterlein, London 1958: Photo: Alan Denson
Dedicatred to the Memory of Millicent Ivy Vetterlein (1905 - 1993)
Evening in December
Out yonder suspended over the Peedie Hill
evening in December here is mid-afternoon,
their passing overhead is silent and purposeful:
there is something profound in it,
A full moon in Gemini
today the military spewed by
they talk of dogfights over the sea
The moon looked sad to me,
they talk of countering global warming
all we really do is to behave collectively
I wonder what tomorrow’s moon
Noise, noise, noise and yet more noise,
noise from traffic,
the noise of war,
Whatever the newscasters choose to offer—it’s news.
Miss Cable Carr swinging from Mount Pleasant,
that’s news—O! what a wonderful world.
What shape is the universe? (they ask).
What shape destiny or the price of wisdom?
Whatever else we may care to call ourselves,
What shape the universe? When?
Damp, measureless days,
Monuments to the present
Up they go, strung up
the island’s flat bellies
Here young kids roam the streets
Here kids, young and old,
Here we plan and carry out so-called “wars”
fifty years ago I set a different course for myself,
Corners of sanctuary
Where lies that sanctuary
There is something contrary in the question,
We are by nature gregarious
Where is that corner of sanctuary
Nowhere, at no time,
Lone messenger at dawn
Standing in the dawn silence, Mercury’s light
They may destroy the material fabric of my past—
yet music lives on through the ether,
(All cover designs etc. are by the author.)