Peter Rafferty

Peter Rafferty

I must have done something terrible in a past life, as I support Carlisle United in this one. Born within earshot of the ground in 1952, I read Geography at Manchester, followed by research at Durham on Late-glacial slope development in northwest Iceland. And in Carlisle I remain, earning my corn by running a betting shop, while my wife works in the branch along the road.

Formerly also a part-time wine importer, I remain a full-time Italophile.

I was in the Paddock when Jimmy Glass scored, and in orbit one second later.

Here are some of my poems, one a translation (from the Italian of course) and two original works.


from the Italian of Andrea Zanzotto

How many perfections are there, how many,
how many totalities? The data points stack up, and then
then it starts - abstraction, astrification, formulation of stars,

assideration and traversal of sidereal space,
assiderations, assimilations.
And I would proceed up through the perfected,
on further from the great dazzlement, from the plenum and the void,
procedures researched, procedures rehearsed,
both obvious and oblique,
both doubtful and shadowy (if I knew then I'd tell).
But what of sustenance would that give, so great the abundance of snow,
or value: to valley from morning to valley,
to mountain from the light's many fountains.
I set myself central to this radiant motion
or is that inanition - and ah
And ah, the first shivers of leaping, of grasping,
they set out in line, so sure of themselves,
that's it, what more do you want?

Your consolation, your insolation,
acclimatized and allied
are what I get from this winter
on vitreous vertices of the eternal, on the frozen margins
of that which I-never-no-didn't-let go,
and the star that burns in its rind
and the chestnut drawn to the ice's kind
and all Eros all hero all lib-liberty in the snare
in whose bear-hug I find myself trammelled, found too
there is found in suggestion, stands in the programme, and the execution
a smile, n'est-ce pas? And exist(tense)(i.e.)(that is to see)
something that we can do nothing about, not even hypothesise
on the threshold where one makes to (caress?).
A bacchanal shout screes over the glacier
the culture of colours
the reassured workings in gold.
Hello. who's calling? Hang up again.
And I'm ready too, in immortal disguise
for a thumbnail sketch of the snow

- a blip even on the radar would do
Hello anyone there? To or of the perfected.

That's it then, off you all go.


Of a time, we were gods, and fashioned the earth:
how many Alps and Himalayas
grew moth-eaten with cirques, were threaded bare
by ideal glaciers, reduced to peneplains?

But then came quanta, ruining constructs:
a world of objects confronted us with detail
and particulars, in rank to be described:
at each glacier snout, the end moraine


by stone
by stone
by stone

by stone
by stone
by stone
by stone

(dal segno fine 10, 000 BP)

At this year's camp, we're watching the accretions,
and yes, something's loosening from the ice:

Measure it up!
Open a file!
Get it cleaned up and bunged in a jar!

What's this, does it move?
Is it starting to speak?
Is it claiming a name of its own?

Whisht noo!

We may have to be careful about this one.


I was driving down Dunmail, the first time by night
to catch Kenny Wheeler, as steel chilled the meres,
when from over Helm Crag came an unearthly light:
Moon, Venus, and Jupiter, so bright you could steer
without heads as they danced to the song of the spheres.

Well you know sometimes music can send me doolally:
coming out from the Floyd: We held Raff by his feet.
Having chugged back upraise, I went full sail downvalley,
but pulled up past Wythburn, only right I should greet
tarn and fell in the frost of the sky's Merry Neet.

I stood still to hear what the becks might be telling;
that the planets had set made the stars shine more clear,
cast a silvery sheen on the snows of Helvellyn,
even sprinkled my bonnet - I vaulted light years
to breathe photons and dance to the pulse of the spheres.

Foot wild to the floor then, and singing, I soon
lit the motorway's neon. Stars burn in their right,
though so far and so cold - we are more Sun and Moon,
who rules me it's said, though I don't howl or bite
when she's riding at full, and I shine in your light.

Come with me then - I've none, we don't need reservations:
there's no need of astrologers, mountain-top seers,
the thumbed and notched ivory's immured computations:
The stars grind no axe - we can go without fears
on their paths as we dance to the reel of the spheres.

Poems on this page Copyright © 2002 Peter Rafferty

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Last modified: March 28th 2005