In his previous full-length collection, The Knowledge (Nine Arches Press, 2015), American expat. Robert Peake confronts London with fresh eyes through poetry. In Hertfordshire Songs, he sets his sights on the quirks of suburban and pastoral Britain.
Reminiscent of Sir John Betjeman’s Metro-Land, this sequence of fifteen poems about the townships of Hertfordshire will take you on a cheeky journey from raves to roundabouts, weirs to war memorials.
Whether you are a resident of Hertfordshire, or just always wanted to be one, there’s something for you to sing about in Hertfordshire Songs.
But then, so much pastoral quiet may be the ruin of a town,
so gather up the horses, hams, and clowns at Christmastime,
thread them through a well-worn story, weft with crooked jokes
and cock-eyed bits, get the kids all wound up before bedtime.
Be a dame, and do this one thing for me: be the backside
of a dressed-up cow, for better a kick in the rump than a pie
in the face, since this year’s costume cleaning budget
is the round œuf of a golden goose. Make the gags as pungent
as the bite of egg-and-cress on a youngster’s tongue―
come one, bring all, from the chimneys of the estate to the white
bottoms of the long-sunk wells, trickle in behind the velvet
curtain, babbling like the Mimram on her stones, come alone
and leave in arms, to spring a hole where the water once seep’d―
dig down, dig down, to where the cœur of things is kept.