Tuesday poem – Things

THINGS, by Fleur Adcock


There are worse things than having behaved foolishly in public.

There are worse things than these miniature betrayals,

committed or endured or suspected. There are worse things

than not being able to sleep for thinking about them.

It is 5 a.m.  All the worse things come stalking in

and stand icily about the bed looking worse and worse and worse.



(From ‘Poems 1960 – 2000′ published by Bloodaxe Books, and used by kind permission of the poet.)

I admire Fleur Adcock’s poetry enormously; she makes acute observations with a lovely fluency and real style. And her range is both broad and deep – everything from poems like the one above, which make me laugh (and wince) in uncomfortable recognition, to a moving memorial of a loved friend (“For Meg”, collected in the same volume).

Fleur Adcock is a New Zealander by birth and the author of ten books of poetry and a collected edition of her work. She was awarded an OBE in 1996. There’s a good review of her latest collection (‘Dragon Talk’) here.

8 Responses to “Tuesday poem – Things”

  1. mary mccallum Says:

    I love her wit and mordant humour and the economical way she focuses on that ‘thing’ that cries out to be said.

  2. admin Says:

    Yes, its effects are beautifully judged, aren’t they? And it illuminates such a familiar awfulness.

  3. kathleen jones Says:

    I love this – it describes the dreaded 3 o’clocks (in my case) very well – that awful waking when all the worst things in your life go round and round in your head like a video tape on a loop.
    My favourite poem of hers is ‘Future Work’ – it makes me smile every time! She’s so good at hitting the nail right on the head with exactly the right type of hammer.

  4. admin Says:

    I love what you say about the right type of hammer, Kathleen.

  5. Jennifer Compton Says:

    very nice stuff, i carry some of fleur’s work around in my head, snails and st james park frinstance – but i didn’t know this one

    mordant is the word for it i find

  6. A week of it « Homepaddock Says:

    [...] Things by Fleur Adcock. [...]

  7. Tim Jones Says:

    It was good to see a poem by Fleur Adcock on here – and thanks for the link to the review of her latest collection. I enjoyed reading her “Poems 1960-2000″ a lot, and hadn’t realised how long the gap had been since that selection until you posted this.

  8. admin Says:

    Thanks for that, Tim.’Things’ inspired me to check back on Fleur Adcock’s recent work, too, and I am delighted that you enjoyed it.

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