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Peterloo Poets

Poetry Publishers 1972 - 2009

A Watching Brief
Poems by U. A. Fanthorpe


A Watching Brief
A Watching Brief was U.A. Fanthorpe’s fourth collection, and the first since her Selected Poems (1986) was published simultaneously in Peterloo hardback and King Penguin (paperback). All her volumes have met extraordinarily unanimous critical acclaim.

‘. . . one of England’s most consistently engaging poets.’
Carol Ann Duffy / Poetry Review

‘U.A. Fanthorpe is a poet of real importance. She is shrewd, intelligent, imaginatively alert, technically adroit and emotionally appealing: a writer who can both edify and entertain.’
Alan Bold / The Scotsman

‘. . . profound and hilarious . . .’
Michael Horovitz / Punch

‘Who, though, will move you, going straight for the emotions? Unhesitatingly, I name U.A. Fanthorpe as the poet who can suddenly hit you below the heart.’
Robin Lane Fox / Financial Times

‘Her poems are particularly good when they offer unaffected voices from a gallery of human types that do not usually figure in poetry.’
George Szirtes / Times Literary Supplement

‘. . . an accessible, precise and moving poet . . .’
Kenneth Baker / Sunday Telegraph

Selected Poems is a fine achievement, with the promise perhaps of even better things to come.’
Simon Rae / Times Literary Supplement


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The Doctor

Sir Luke Fildes: The Doctor, Tate Gallery

'That Jackson, he's another one.
If he goes on opening windows we'll all
Die of pneumonia.'
                                The native obsessions:
Health and the weather. Attendants have
The dogged, grainy look of subjects. Someone,
Surely, is going to paint them?

'You don't have a bad heart yet, do you?'

'Not that I know of.'
                               ‘They can examine you.'

'But they don't really know.'
                                The painters knew.
Gainsborough eyed his lovely, delicate daughters
And rich fat brewers: Turner his hectic skies.
They brooded on death by drowning (Ophelia, in real water);
Cloud without end; storm; storm coming on;
Bright exophthalmic eyes, consumptive colours,
And gorgeous goitred throats; the deluge,
The end of the world, and Adam's
Appalling worm-wrapped birth.
                                Such patient watchers
Have eyes for those who watch. The child,
Frets in its fever, the parents
Grieve in the background gloom. But the doctor,
Who has done all he can, and knows nothing
Will help or heal, sits raptly, raptly,
As if such absorbed attention were in itself
A virtue. As it is.

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A WATCHING BRIEF
Cover illustration: Sir Luke Fildes, the Doctor (The Tate Gallery, London).
Publication: OCTOBER 1987 (76 pages laminated paperback).
ISBN 10: 0905291875, ISBN 13:9780905291871.