The Byelaws

Glyn Maxwell

Never have met me, know me well,

tell all the world there was little to tell,

say I was heavenly, say I was hell,

harry me over the blasted moors

         but come my way, go yours.
.
Never have touched me, take me apart,

trundle me through my town in a cart,

figure me out with the aid of a chart,

finally add to the feeble applause

         and come my way, go yours.
.
Never have read me, look at me now,

get why I’m doing it, don’t get how,

other way round, have a rest, have a row,

have skirmishes with me, have wars,

         O come my way, go yours.
.
Never have left me, never come back,

mourn me in miniskirts, date me in black,

undress as I dress, when I unpack pack

yet pause for eternity on all fours

          to come my way, go yours.
.
Never have met me, never do,

never be mine, never even be you,

approach from a point it’s impossible to

at a time you don’t have, and by these byelaws

          come my way, go yours.

___________

The ByelawsPluto – the non-planet, the ex-planet – is the dominant celestial influence in Glyn Maxwell’s new collection: Pluto is a book about change, the before-and-after of love, the aftermath of loss: change of status and station, home and place, of tense and pronoun. It also marks a radical departure for one of our most celebrated English poets: his formidable skills as a rhetorician and dramatist are suddenly directed inwardly, to produce poems of brutal self-examination, raw elegy, and strange songs of the kind those bruising encounters often leave us singing to ourselves. In Pluto, Maxwell has set out something like a metaphysic of the affair; the result is a lean and concentrated poetry of great emotional power, and far and away Glyn Maxwell’s most directly personal work to date.

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