Not Too Late to Remember R P Lister

R. P. Lister passed away on May 1, 2014 after a long life filled with poetry. He published frequently in major journals such as The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, and Punch. Although not as famous as some other poets, his skill as a poet and his unique voice are worth looking up and reading. For example, his interest in mineralogy gets an uplift here:


I dreamed the judgment came to me by night
They stood around my bed, severe of mien
And asked one question “what is enstatite?”

“It is an orthorhombic pyroxene,”
I said, and as I spoke I heard the jangle
Of planets crashing down the cosmic seas.

I added hastily: “Its cleavage angle
is eighty-seven (more or less) degrees.
If it were fifty-six, not eighty-seven

We should, quite clearly, have an amphibole.”
At this they swept me, singing up to heaven,
Where angels’ hands received my battered soul.

Another excellent poem is his “Busses on the Strand”:

The Strand is beautiful with buses,
Fat and majestical in form,
Red like tomatoes in their trusses
In August, when the sun is warm.

They cluster in the builded chasm,
Corpulent fruit, a hundred strong,
And now and then a secret spasm
Spurs them a yard or two along.

Scarlet and portly and seraphic,
Contented in the summer’s prime,
They beam among the jumbled traffic,
Patiently ripening with time,

Till, with a final jerk and rumble,
The Strand tomatoes, fat and fair,
Roll past the traffic lights and tumble
Gleefully down Trafalgar Square.