Peterloo Poets

Poetry Publishers 1972 - 2009

Last Boat to Avalon
Poems by Stella Davis

Last Boat to AvalonStella Davis was born and brought up in southern England, and educated at Christ’s Hospital and Southampton University. She lives in Somerset, and draws on landscape and history, myth, memory and imagination, as well as great institutions of the south (Southampton Docks, Winchester Cathedral), and the wider world, for her poetry.

“There is in her poetry a gracefulness, a beauty, a seriousness, and an accuracy, which make her a poet to enjoy, while at the same time feeling the elegance of  instruction.”
Sebastian Barker

“Stella Davis’s poems twist in and out of myth, story, the everyday and the archetypal. The journeys in the poems can be the ordinary travels of life, but they echo the journeys that the heroes and heroines in folk stories undertake, and anything might step out from the shimmer between the everyday and the magical world. The Poem ‘One Of Those Times’ begins

                                        I was stopped where the woods begin
                                        by a man with a gun
                                        my hands full of wild roses
                                        my head full of silence

You know from the stanza’s evocative force that this isn’t just a ‘get off my land’ experience: the man with the gun, the men with guns, are from a darker world, a cruelty that is never far away, and, as the poem concludes, ‘no one is safe’. Whether the voyage is to Avalon or Eastern Europe, take nothing for granted, keep your senses sharp.”
Michael Mackmin


Last Boat to Avalon

The man who has missed the last boat to Avalon
stands at the pierhead, his blood streaming into the sea
and coating the armour which he discards
piece by piece to the small tide running beneath.

He has fought so many skirmishes, in the ordinary way
(not one of the favourites, not one of the great names
doing battle for love or glory), just hacking a path
through the enemy ranks, because that was what he did.

The fine stories meant nothing to him, nor the quests,
and he never believed in the magic. The romance
of the lovers he thought very iffy, and Sir Pure-in-Heart
a fanciful fool. Even the leader, for him,
was no miracle, just a king, to whom he was loyal
all the way to the final embarkation. And now

the women are gone, who might have bound up his wounds,
and his King is gone, and his comrades scattered,
and without the boat he still can see sliding from view
so imperceptibly that it always will stay
like a graze on his eyeball, without
that promised craft, the game is up.

So he stands unassuaged in his pain, and calls to mind
how the King kissed him once, when he brought
some message he did not understand:
swept clear down the hall and embraced him
as if he belonged. He recalls this bitterly,
but will die before he has time to speak of betrayal.


Price 7.95 per copy
Cover Illustration: “Fade of light, Tamar” etching with other media © Jill Mannings Cox
Publication MARCH 2009 (laminated paperback).