01 April 2021, The Tablet

Speed reading: Michael Glover on poetry for Spring


The relationship between poetry and music has always been rather fondly flirtatious. Words are buoyed on their musicality. A tune can transport a lyric. Michael Symmons Roberts writes oblique poems of metaphysical questing, and at the heart of a new book called Ransom (Jonathan Cape, £10; Tablet price £9), there is a sequence which takes as its point of lift-off a collection of exquisite pieces for solo piano by Olivier Messiaen called Vingt Regards sur l’enfant Jésus. Messiaen’s music seems to drift wondrously through interstellar space. Roberts’ poems feel drawn after and through it – like the children of the Pied Piper.

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