By John Glenday
If you must carry fire, carry it in
your heart – somewhere sheltered but hidden,
polished by hands that once loved it.
The lining may be scorched and blackened
but only you must ever know this.
That easy hush you sometimes hear at night
as the darkness stirs in you, is not
the accustomed ache of blood, but a flame
shivering against the wind –
a meagre flame seeded long before you were born
which you have always known must be kept
burning forever, and offered to no one.
From John Glenday's The Golden Mean, winner of the Roehampton Poetry Prize 2016.
The prize is given annually for the best poetry collection of the year written by a poet of any nationality living in the UK and is judged exclusively by poets. This year’s judges were Mimi Khalvati, Ruth Padel and Professor David Harsent, Chair of the Roehampton Poetry Centre. Professor Harsent said:
'The poems in John Glenday’s collection have a sharp immediacy allied to a tense, lyric line. His spiritual response to a closely-observed world is given a hardness of image and a stringent music that endows these often troubling poems with real edge.'
Read 'Primroses' from The Golden Mean
Join our Picador Friday poem email and we'll send a hand-picked poem straight to your inbox each week.