Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Fleur Adcock’s ‘Island Bay’


Island Bay


Bright specks of neverlastingness

float at me out of the blue air,

perhaps constructed by my retina


which these days constructs so much else,

or by the air itself, the limpid sky,

the sea drenched in its turquoise liquors


like the paua shells we used to pick up

seventy years ago, two bays

along from here, under the whale’s great jaw.


Fleur Adcock



Fleur Adcock was born in New Zealand but has lived in England since 1963, with regular visits to NZ. She lives in London, and has dual British and New Zealand citizenship. She was awarded an OBE in 1996, a CNZM in 2008 and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2006. Her poetry is published in Britain by Bloodaxe Books and in New Zealand by Victoria University Press. In 2019 her Collected Poems appeared from Victoria University Press, and later that year she received the Prime Minister’s award for Literary Achievement in Poetry.

Fleur: I wrote this poem when I was in New Zealand late last year. It feels unbelievable that I should have been able to walk freely along the coast of Island Bay basking in the sunshine and the wind, just because I felt like it; things are not like that here, and may never be again for someone of my age. But at least it’s spring, and I have my garden, and am allowed to go for walks in the local woods as long as I don’t travel on a bus to get there, or risk doing anything so audacious as my own shopping.








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