Publications by David Morphet

Seventy-Seven Poems [2002] 

19.5 x 12.5 cm softback 112 pp, ISBN 094153 1 1

£6.99 plus £2.80 p+p 

This is David Morphet’s first published collection of poetry.  Its seven sections include poems on human consciousness, memory, love and landscape (especially the moorland of the poet’s native Pennines). They also draw on the poet’s diplomatic experience. The opening poem Official hospitality records meetings with Gromyko in Moscow (1966), Ceausescu in Bucharest (1968); and Li Peng in Beijing (1984).  The poem New York 1967 recalls attendance at the Special Assembly of the United Nations following the Arab-Israel War. 

Noon at Tours first appeared in the Cambridge literary magazine Delta in 1961.

Poet Dannie Abse noted ‘a great gift for evoking atmosphere’ in this collection.

The Angel and the Fox [2003]

19.5 x 12.5 cm softback 72 pp, ISBN 09541573 2 X

£7.99 plus £2.80 p+p

The collection opens with a series of eighteen poems introducing the adversarial characters of Angel (aspiration) and Fox (guile). It continues with a wide variety of subjects including description of places (riding in Qatar in 1964); Pennine landscape (Swallow-holes); international concern (Staying Alive); and the business of composition (Poems like peas).

It concludes with an elegy for a relative who suffered from mental illness.

Approaching Animals from A to Z [2004]

19.5 x 12.5 cm softback 70 pp, ISBN 09541573 3 8

£9.99 plus £2.80 p+p

The collection explores what the animal kingdom means to us, visually and imaginatively.  There are 44 poems on individual animals anging from Albatross and Aphid through Chimpanzee and Newt to Zebu and Zoophyte. A concluding poem salutes the allure of animals and observes how their ‘restlessness … fires up/ the pulse of life within us.’

39 Ways of Looking [2005]

19.5 x 12.5 cm softback 2 pp, ISBN 09541573 4 6

£9.99 plus £2.80 p+p

The 39 poems of the title sequence follow a train of thought which moves through various forms of uncertainty towards glimpses of the authentic.  Special attention is given to those who, in conditions of tyranny, preserve a vision of truth and integrity such as Schostakovich and Primo Levi.

Three shorter sequences follow.  The first, The Automatic Self looks at the strangely alien processes of our automatic nervous system. The second, Night Watch, explores the boundaries of illusion and reality within dreams.  The third, Worlds Apart, looks at how different world views emerge in maps of different periods.

Poet and critic Michael Hamburger found this collection ‘imaginative and intelligent’.

The Silence of Green [2007]

19.5 x 12.5 cm softback 72 pp, ISBN 09541573 5 4

£9.99 plus £2.80 p+p

We live in a world of constant noise circumscribed by a world of silence – that of plants.  The central theme of the twelve poems of the initial sequence is the unheard, complex processes of the green world and how we relate to them (The Silence of Xylem, No Mangos in Tibet, Tall Trees.  The following 32 poems on individual plants – from aloe to rattan, tumbleweed and yarrow – give rise to a wide range of narratives and moods.

Some of the 14 poems in the final section – Songs and Observations – are personal sketches (My Private Island, Cast Off), and some are on a wider canvas ( Moor Song, Song of Wool).

Critic Karl Miller found the poems and stories in this collection ‘ingenious and elegant’.  Poet Anthony Thwaite admired ‘the pertinacity of observation and clear lines’ of the collection.  Poet Dannie Abse found it ‘a remarkable book, its sequences all of a piece’.  Poet Charles Tomlinson was ‘struck by the quality and distinction of the poetry’ in this collection.

The Maze – A daydream in five cantos [2009]

18 x 12 cm softback 46 pp, ISBN 09541573 6 2

£5.00 plus £2.80 p+p

This is an imaginative excursion into poetic landscape, involving calls on Pope, Dr Johnson, Wordsworth, Blake, Keats and Ezra Pound. It is written in over 200 lines of terza rima.

It begins in similar fashion to Dante’s Divine Comedy where the poet finds himself lost in a dark wood.  Here the poet is lost in a maze, with no obvious way out.

Poet Michael Symmons Roberts found The Maze ‘a terrific piece of work for its ambition , poise and formal skill’.

The Intruders [2010]

19.5 x 12.5 cm softback 72 pp, ISBN 09541573 7 0

£9.99 plus £2.80 p+p

The Intruders are Angel and Fox from an earlier collection where they embody lofty aspiration and low guile respectively.  The pair force themselves upon the poet.  They arrive ‘unneighbourly, without a knock’ and proceed to ‘make a meal of where I get things wrong’,  bringing ‘high ideals and shifty sophistry’ into his living room.  Both belittle his failure to make more of life and through a sequence of 20 sharply phrased poems he is forced to deflect their scorn.  At last Everything goes quiet: Angel goes off in disgust ‘to catechize Antarctica’.

The 33 Songs and Observations which follow range from the periodic table, calculus and intelligent design to Emily Dickinson and Ezra Pound, marmalade and dim sum.  They include a satire on a fictional modern painter (How good he was!) and a tribute to hard fact (Trust the Engineers).  Further satire appears in a sequence of ‘Five selfish poems’ featuring hoodies and a vindictive Red Queen.

Lyrics from the Periodic Table [2011]

18 x 12 cm softback 48 pp, ISBN 978 09541573 8 9

£5.00 plus £2.80 p+p

Following the previous collections on animals and plants, this collection addresses chemical building blocks from which life is formed.  It takes the Periodic Table – one of science’s great icons – as its starting point and includes poems on 27 different elements including Hydrogen, Carbon, Oxygen, Argon, Cobalt, Copper, Neodimium, Mercury, Radon and Uranium.  There is even a sonnet for Ununoctium – element 118 – which only exists for a fraction of a second.

The Periodic Table itself is printed in complete form and has its own poem (It’s not so solid as it seems).  The collection ends with An antistrophe for antimatter.

A sequence from the Cyclades [2012]

18 x 12 cm softback 20 pp, ISBN 978 09541573 9 5

£3.50 plus £1.50 p+p

These 15 poems seek to evoke the intense colour and vitality of the Cyclades islands. They draw on visits to several of the islands and were initially brough together to mark the Golden Wedding of friends who for 40 years holidayed in a house on the crest of Serifos.

This collection was expanded and re-published as ‘Ring of Islands’ (2022).

Six poems from the collection have been set to music by Adrian Rickard.

Night Train to Utopia and other tales [2013]

18 x 12cm softback 60 pp, ISBN 978 09575458 -0-9

£6.50 plus £2.80 p+p

The title poem is a surreal narrative in three parts – The Journey, The Flight and Journey’s End – each of over 200 lines written in unrhymed tercets.  The lawyers, religious zealots, sporting types, hippies and others who board the Night Train to Utopia are utterly self-centred and clueless about where the mystery train will actually take them.  On arrival at an empty platform in the middle of nowhere, their only glimpse of a frightening ‘Utopia’ leaves them in deep shock, and they retreat to an abandoned halt in a deserted mining town where the religious zealots decide to stay.  Others make their way through bleak terrain and a perilous river-crossing into a jungle war zone, where they turn to practical and altruistic action in a refugee camp. The Withering of Vines and Horse Plague are nightmare visions of global epidemics.  After the Pied Piper carries forward the Hamelin story from where Browning left off.

Poet Alan Jenkins found Night Train ‘impressive, ambitious and elegantly done’.

Satires and Legacies [2014]

19.5 x 12.5cm softback 74pp, ISBN 978 09575458-1-6

£9.99 plus £2.80 p+p

The collection is in four parts.  The satirical and cautionary Purdue’s Tale is a poem of 550 lines in rhymed quatrains and 14 Sections.  Purdue buttonholes a delayed passenger at a bus station to tell his tale – of the SKEWED private finance group.  With government support, the group plans to staff SKEWED care homes with young offenders from SKEWED jails who are to be conditioned for this by psychological trauma in a remote so-called research laboratory.  In a grimly humorous passage, Purdue is recruited to work at this laboratory.  When young offenders begin to disappear, Purdue blows the whistle, only to face a political cover-up, with threats which drive him into hiding.  

Satire continues in Tale of the Red Queen and other witnessThe Red Queen (in 13 parts) evokes the rise and fall of Margaret Thatcher.  A Master Chef with grand designs is a take on Boris Johnson’s canny manipulation. Part Three – Legacies – salutes a number of writers and discoverers who have faced danger and ignorance and persisted (Edward Jenner, Thomas Clarkson).  In Part Four the Angel who has appeared in earlier collections returns to find fault with the poet and pontificate.

Homecoming by Microlight – Landscapes and Satires [2015]

18 x 12 cm softback 72 pp, ISBN 978 09575458-2-3

£6.99 plus £2.80 p+p

The 20 poems in the first section of the book – Landscapes – undertake an imaginative overflight of all [the poet’s] native Pennine places’ including Yorkshire’s  Colne Valley, Dentdale the region around Pen-y-Ghent and above all the majestic Pennine moors.

Satires re-introduces Fox, a slippery character from earlier collections and includes eight unconventional nursery rhymes’. 

The 68 part-rhymed tercets of Steel-capped PR recounts an unsettling experience with an unscrupulous public relations firm called Snarlings which is pushing a hard right-wing agenda.

Brief Encounters [2016]

18 x 12 cm softback 40 pp, ISBN 97809575458-3-0

[out of print]

Fifteem poetic sketches of memorable encounters over the years, with famous people and others. The famous include Tito, Bobby Kennedy, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia and Willy Brandt.

The Wranglers and other poems [2017]

19,5 x 12.5 cm softback  88 pp, ISBN 978 0957545-4-7

£9.99 plus £2.80 p+p

Thirty humorous sketches highlight the sharp conflict in attitude to life of Angel and Fox, characters who have appeared in previous collections.  Angel is fastidious, self-satisfied and takes the moral high ground.  Fox is opportunistic and sees no harm in corruption which can be concealed.  Angel enthuses over intellectual discovery and vision.  Fox remains obtuse: the clash is unresolved.

A second section reflects on eight poets including Joseph Brodsky and Czeslaw Milosz. 

A third section contains seven poems on Spain, where the poet lived for three years, and nine on gardens of various types and places.

Poet Fiona Sampson commented on the Angel and Fox poems in the collection: ‘David Morphet continues to explore the human condition without resorting to either pity or sentiment.’.  Poet Alan Brownjohn greatly appreciated the range of material’ in the collection, and ‘enjoyed in particular the unconventionality , for today, of the conflict between Fox and Angel’.

Another Planet Earth [2018]

19.5 x 12.5 cm softback 160 pp, ISBN 978 09575458-5-4

£12.50 plus £2.80 p +p

This collection of 25 new and 95 selected poems brings together themes from all fourteen of the poet’s previous collections.  A new sequence of twenty poems extends the sharp debate between the aspirations of Angel and guile of Fox.  Angel is excited by the prospect of finding ‘another Planet Earth’ in the habitable zone of some distant star.  Fox provides a sceptical counterpoint.

Goodbye to Angel and Fox, and other poems [2020]

19.5 x 12.5 cm softback 88 pp, ISBN 978 09575458-6-1

£9.99 plus £2.80 p+p

This collection brings to a conclusion the clash between the aspiration of Angel and the guile of Fox which runs through much of the poet’s work; and takes the Angel/Fox series to over 100 poems.  Poet Maura Dooley comments: ‘What an achievement to have taken Angel and Fox on such a journey’.  The volume concludes with fifteen ‘poems of witness’ including Daydreams of the departed; and translations of three poems by Apollinaire.

Ring of Islands [2022]

19.5 x 12.5 cm softback 40 pp, No ISBN

£5.00 plus £1.50 p+p

Twenty-five very varied poems evoke the intense colour and vitality of the Greek Cyclades. Poet Dannie Abse admired the ‘fresh-air poems’ which are included here from the earlier, shorter collection Sequence from the Cyclades,  applauding their ‘felicitous phrases and verbal energy’.

Twelve Poems of the Sea [2023]

19.5cm x 12.5cm  softback  24 pp, No ISBN

£5.00 plus £1.50 p+p

The collection considers the sea in various aspects.

There are poems on physical features both on the surface and subsea. Other poems are about creatures that live in the sea. There is an undercurrent of concern about exploitation of the sea’s resources.  The titles are as follows:

The Great Marine Repository; Capes; Gulfs; Straits; Dirge for Kelp; Manatee on the edge; A  taste of Bêche-de-Mer; Plankton; Whale fall; Black smokers; Birth of a Tsunami; The Sea is always Master.