This is John Birtwhistle's first collection of poems since 'Our Worst Suspicions' (1985), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. In the meantime much of his writing has gone into libretti, including 'The Plumber's Gift', performed by English National Opera. He has not, however, been neglecting poetry - as can be seen from the energetic variety of form and tone displayed here. Birtwhistle accepts from modernism the duties of visual clarity, concision, and originality of phrase; but he unites this with a romantic commitment to feeling and to organic form. His subject matter is wide-ranging as ever, but shows a new intensity about the the life cycle.