Published in 2017

A challenging, life-affirming collection of poems, the author's tenth.

Available from Brambleby Books

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Red Tulips: Selected Poems 1999-2016

Anthology

This tenth collection of poetry by Hugh David Loxdale covers themes like natural selection, environmental issues and the behaviour of animals and birds. It also includes sex, sleep, the presence (or not) of ghosts, memories of lost loved ones, the horrors of the First World War, and even the struggle to get out of bed in the morning!

Poetry

Alive!, Always Trust the Squirrels, Autumn Wasps, Ballad of the Poor Old Thylacine, Canary of Madeira, Centuries Will Pass, View from Corr An Droma, Early Symphony, 6.45am, Elysium, First Call, Künstlerhaus Gasteiger ‒ The House of Dreams,  Grasses, Having a Fling!, Here We Are, In Memoriam for Rosalind, Kleiber, Lavender, Little Girls, Mid-September, Moving House, Pursuing Dreams, Red Tulips, Where Skylarks Ever Sing, I Can See You, Sunset in Jazan, The Awakening, The ‘Captive’ Robin, Dark Birds, Sex, The Duck’s Tale, Gum Trees of Manjimup, The Hardy Blackbird, Monarchs of Quinta da Boavista, Red Squirrel, The Sleeper, The Voyager, To Kill a Fly, Waves at Peaceful Bay, Wild Winds, Wind Dancers, Reflections of Phyllis, On arriving by train at České Budějovice, You Are My Wife, Damnable Dogs, Somewhere, Vacant Swifts, You are the wind, Impressions at Sixty-Six

What People Say

About Where Skylarks Ever Sing: “A poem to end all poems! Like a war to end all wars. The reality of man's depravity is unceasing and unflinching. Well encapsulated and a wonderful essay on such a serious subject.” Brian Davis, BSc, DipEd, Senior Geologist, Perth, Western Australia, 11 April, 2017

Selected Poems

Alive!

We are alive…both you and I! 

We share the commonality of life, 

Ere we die, 

The chance to dance, skip, laugh and sing, 

To stand in tall grass fields when the quail take wing, 

To stand and watch the setting sun,

Full red-ripe, two of us, not just one. 

Watch the brown trout in crystal streams, 

To cast a line or wish our dreams, 

Hold hands and tell stories 

Till the hour is late, 

By crackling flames, our hopes we state.

Enquire with neighbours of their delicate health,

Of their daughter’s ambitions and their son’s wealth.

And cast down earphones, iPods and all, 

So that we can stand in tall grass, so tall, 

And speculate why butterflies skim and weave…as they do, 

And whether life is sweet, real, perfect…

And indeed, is true.

Red Tulips

Red, they explode outward in bold array, 

A riot of colour, a revolution, some might say, 

They exude energy sucked from the once cold clay, 

A dynamic still life, a contradiction, in some sort of way, 

They breathe fire, like dragons, that needs must we slay, 

Then droop, lose faith, and sad fade away…  


But they had their hour of glory, of still fame, 

Longer in fact, shone that gorgeous flame,

Of spring’s promise, an essence that no one can tame,

Dragon slayers or fire-eaters, or as you may name, 

They have their mission; they know their game,

One to inspire…and hence, show no shame…  


A flower, true, yet much more than this, 

Tulip, symbol of Lowlands and mad crisis*, 

Wild bloom of distant lands, seas of calm bliss, 

Growing from high mountains to sunlit abyss, 

A lily, so strange, ensnares the rainbow, and is… 

The gesture of romance, that most tender kiss.


 * 'Tulip mania' of 1636-7

Where Skylarks Ever Sing* (Requiem for War Poets, 1914-18)

Immeasurably sad – but uplifting too

That they fought believing what was true.  

That their bravery and call to arms 

Would lead to a just and lasting peace…

And psalms; a war to end all wars…          

A cause such that the ‘wolf will dwell with the lamb’ 

Amidst those scarred, brown, wretched fields.  


Alas it was not to be… 

Since Man’s warlike nature eventually

Won the day…  

Thus wars persist

And strife continues to have its way; it cannot resist… 

At least in some enduring corner of a foreign field, 

Where skylarks ever sing above the machine guns 

Savage din…  

But where strange motives  

Still belie the reckless sin…and make us sick at heart 

To contemplate the horror of it all. 


Ah yes, the bugle’s distant call!  


Who now will answer that proud, demanding 

Wall of sound, just to let off another round 

Or two…of death…much less begrudge those young, fit men

Some days, some weeks, to draw their precious breath?  


Those poets knew well enough the cause 

And contemplation of war…

Long enough to pause and take stock 

Ere sickness, gas, bullet or shell…

Struck home with enduring force…

To knock the pencil from a cramped, blue hand, 

And kill off another visitor to hell.  


Or with luck, spared them 

To brood years of torment…or with a laugh 

Shrug away the vanity of it all 

And let death happily slip by. 


Gladly, we are still free and rejoice 

At their courage and sacrifice…to us, the then unborn. 


Oh cruel war, you are so misshapen. 

Your torn uniform is unrecognisable in the mud, 

Splattered as another shell lands with a terrifying thud… 

To explode in our collective consciousness…   

Shatters this brief spell of reflection and solitude 

That allows us to shed a tear for those 

We never personally knew…  

They who ultimately answered the call, 

For both country and posterity alike,  

And daily tossed that most uncaring dice… 

Of all.   


* Written after attending the exhibition of the life and  works of ten famous British First World War poets – Anthem for Doomed Youth on the 3rd March, 2003 at the Imperial War Museum, London