Hugo Williams: a poem


Picture ©BenjaminSullivan


Quarantine


My eyes are cast down,

as if from modesty or embarrassment.

My half-closed hands

lie on the table in front of me,

where I can see them.


From the way I am sitting,

staring at a sheet of paper,

something would seem to be the matter.

Perhaps I am ill?

Or the temperature of my pen won't come down?


I lean over myself

with a concerned expression on my face,

as if I am visiting.

I think of something kind to say.

My pen moves over the paper for a moment,


like the needle of an instrument

for recording brain-life.

From the other side of the street

I look like someone writing.

My head comes up, as if I am pausing to think.



Hugo Williams worked at London Magazine from 1961 to 1970 and has also edited poetry for the New Statesman. He is the author of more than a dozen collections of poetry, including West End Final (2009), Collected Poems (2002), Billy’s Rain (1999), which won the T.S. Eliot Prize, and his Eric Gregory Award–winning debut, Symptoms of Loss (1965). A selection of his freelance writing appears in the essay collection Freelancing: Adventures of a Poet (1995). His additional honours include the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and the Cholmondeley Award.