R.I.P. Christopher Logue (1926-2011)

During my enforced separation from the internet I heard the sad news of the death of the poet and political activist Christopher Logue. I therefore decided to repost the following poems, which first appeared on this blog on 3rd May 2009. Logue himself performed them with a Jazz group led by the drummer Tony Kinsey and I first heard them so long ago I can’t remember when. Anyway I’m immensely proud that my blog post made it into the references on Logue’s wikipedia page – and, before you ask, no I didn’t put it there myself!


I think these are beautiful poems made even more effective by the musical setting. In fact they are loose re-workings of some of the famous love poems of Pablo Neruda. Logue moved far away from the Neruda’s originals, but put them into impressionistic free verse, which he reads in his plummy English accent, while the band provides appropriate backing for the sentiments of the poetry as well as providing improvised passages in between the verses.

You can listen to the record Red Bird here.

Now read the lyrics:


Lithe girl, brown girl
Sun that makes apples, stiffens the wheat
Made your body a joy
Tongue like a red bird dancing on ivory
To stretch your arm
Sun grabs at your hair
Like water was falling

Tantalize the sun if you dare
It will leave shadows that match you
Lithe girl, brown girl
Nothing draws me towards you
The heat within you beats me home
Like the sun at high noon

Knowing these things
Perhaps through
Knowing these things
I seek you out
Listening for your voice
For the brush of your arms against wheat
For your step among poppies grown underwater
Lithe girl, brown girl


Steep gloom among pine trees
Waves’ surge breaking
Slow lights that interweave
A single bell

As the day’s end falls into your eyes
The earth starts singing in your body
As the waves sing in a white shell
And the rivers sing within you
And I grow outwards on them
As you direct them
Whither you make them run

I follow for you like a hare
Running reared upright to the hunter’s drum
You turn about me like a belt of clouds
the silence, though it is stupid
Mocks the hours I lay
Troubled by…… nothing

Your arms – translucent stones wherein I lie
And future kisses
Your mysterious voice
Folds close echoes
That shift throughout the night
Much as the wind
Which moves darkly over the profitable fields
Folds down the wheat
From all its height


In the hot depth of summer
The morning is close, storm-filled
Clouds shift –
White rags waving goodbye
Shaken by the frantic wind as it goes and
As it goes
The wind throbs over us
Love-making silenced

Among the trees like a tongue singing
A warning or just singing the wind throbs
And the quick sparrow’s flight is slapped by the wind
Swift thief destructive as waves
Weightless without form
Struck through and through with flame
Which breaks
Soughing its strength out
At the gates of the enormous, silent, summer wind


That you may hear me
My words narrow occasionally
Like gull-tracks in the sand

Or I let them become
Tuneful beads
Mixed with the sound

Of a drunk hawk’s bell
Flick me your wrists…..
Soft as grape skin – yes

Softer than grapeskin I make them
Which is a kind of treachery against the world

You who clamber
Over all the desolations of mine
Gentle as ivy
Eat the words’ meaning

Before you came to me
Words were all that you now occupy
And now they’re no more these words
Than ever they knew of my sadness

Force and dead anguish still drags them
And yes

Malevolent dreams still betimes
Overwhelm them and then

In my bruised voice
You hear other bruised voices
Old agues crying out of old mouths

Do not be angry with me
Lest the wave of that anguish
Drown me again

Even as I sit
Threading a collar of beads for your hands
Softer than grape skin
Hung with a drunk hawk’s bell

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