Expatriated Verse

A very good friend of mine gave me a book for Christmas, knowing how much I was missing reading on a daily basis. Not only a book, but the “Best Poems on the Underground” (Phoenix). I love it, not only because it’s rammed with beautiful poems, but because every chosen piece belongs to a journey (no, I’m not going to start singing Glee), the everyday journeys that take us to and from destinations anywhere in the world. I’ll be on my Metro, you’ll be on your Tube. We’ll be going and coming, each of us.

With travel and geography in mind, I found a particularly good little poem by Fleur Adcock on being a foreigner. I have a feeling most expats would agree…


November ’63: eight months in London.
I pause on the low bridge to watch the pelicans:
they float swanlike, arching their white necks
over only slightly ruffled bundles of wings,
burying awkward beaks in the lake’s water.

I clench cold fists in my Marks and Spencer’s jacket
and secretly test my accent once again:
St James’s Park; St James’s Park; St James’s Park.



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