David Harsent



Nuit Blanche

‘The dark examines us / by touch alone.’
—John Berger, ‘At Remaurian’


The talleyman at the door has found your Book of Lies.
Open up to him. He was once your invisible friend,

now he wants to be your ape,
the shade with the diagnosis, your lover’s lover.

Creatures in the garden shift position.
Did you see that? No. He mapped it for you

and notated the music that plays to sex and slaughter.
He’ll sit it out with you; he’ll bring to this long night

long nights of his own, burdens of denial and desertion,
a house subtle with silence, the back-door barricade…

A dreamscape lock-in is bad enough, but now
it’s loop-tape encounters with your last lost cause

and memory feeling its way along the wall.
Ask him to put on the light. Ask him to read to you.


David Harsent is the author of eleven collections of poetry, including Legion (2005), which won the Forward Prize for best collection, Night (2011), which won the Griffin Poetry Prize, and Fire Songs (2015), which won the 2014 T.S. Eliot Prize. His most recent collection, Salt, was published in 2017, also by Faber & Faber. He is a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Roehampton and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

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