Machiavelli advised the Prince
‘Hand to your associates
A secret paper dagger   –

Choose a fictional failing
Have it known
Such a theme of weakness or remorse
Hurls you helplessly
Into intemperate moods   –
That you no longer function
Neither rage nor reason
But are a malleable person

See who will draw from his sleeve
This paper-soft stiletto
Wielding its imagined might
As if to find the heart

Might you call him ‘friend’?
Many a friend of princes
Conceals such seed of enmity   –

Then furnish them all
With harmless paper daggers
That point towards their own hearts
When unsheathed’




Long black lustrous limousines
Their occupants all wearing
Discreetly detailed tailoring
Exclusively in black   –
A winter day cortege

Their path is set and safe
Then after death
No trace

A coffin placed in a family vault
A vault in a family graveyard
Visited but rarely
Only by family members

For this serene event
What veil?
What quite unquiet secret is required?




Illustration: Claire Palmer



About the Author

‘Roma’ is published by Smokestack Books

‘He is a neo-classical undeceivable poet. These poems stay with you’   
Grey Gowrie, former Chair Arts Council England

‘A fine intelligent eye for the parallels of Ancient Rome and the Modern City’                     
Alan Brownjohn, former Chair The Poetry Society

‘An elegant evocation of Rome’s paradoxical past and present, anchored by the figure of Marcus Aurelius’
Elspeth Barker novelist, journalist, broadcaster                  


Born 1950 into a rural working-class family, his poetry first appeared in U.K. and U.S.A. magazines and journals from 1964 onwards. Both a literary and performance poet with many public readings and some BBC radio in the 60s and 70s ‘British Poetry Renaissance’; these saw him often in the company of earlier generations of poets including John Heath-Stubbs and Anne Beresford, in whom he found greater affinity. Tambimuttu, the editor of Poetry London in the 40s and resurgent 70s, noted favourable comparisons in his work with Keith Douglas.

In a long career of readings he has variously performed under the aegis of ‘New Departures’, ‘The Poetry Society’, ‘Aquarius’, ‘Angels of Fire’, The Cambridge International Poetry Festival, The Aldeburgh, and The William Alwyn Festivals, and, locally, ‘Ouse Muse’.      

He has taught at Antioch and Johns Hopkins Colleges (U.S.A.) in their London and Oxford summer schools, but preferred inner-city work as an I.L.E.A. special needs tutor in psychiatric hospital settings.

He trained in the Jungian approach to Arts Therapies for groups and individuals, working in N.H.S. Psychiatry and in The Robert Smith Alcohol Unit, in both settings as practitioner, supervisor, and also in private practice.

Main Poetry Publications:

                          Testament of the Compass (Burns & Oates 1979)

                          Illuminati (Greville Press 2011)

                          Roma (Smokestack Books 2016)

                          Saturae & Satire – poems of John Heath-Stubbs (Ed.) (Greville Press 2016) 

                          Welcome Back to the Studio (Cassette only) (Lyrenote 1988) 

Some Anthology Inclusions:     

                           Poems of Science (Penguin 1984),

                          Transformation (Rivelin Grapheme 1988)


Alan Morrison reviewing at length in The Recusant ..

‘An ingenious polemical comment on contemporary narcissism and celebrity anti-culture through the prism of Roman philosophy….’

‘Saint resuscitates the First Century ethical sagaciousness of Marcus Aurelius as a template from which to deconstruct the materialistic sham of Twenty-First Century Western Society….’

‘One detects the often gossipy and quotidian tone of Catullus and Cato but also the elegiac school of Roman love poetry of the likes of Ovid and Propertius….’

His latest major book was ‘ROMA’ from Smokestack Books 2016














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