Fiona Sampson

Fiona Sampson


Professor Doctor Fiona Sampson has been published in more than thirty-five languages.

She has sixteen books in translation, and has received the Zlaten Prsten (Macedonia) and

the Charles Angoff Award (US), and been shortlisted for the Evelyn Encelot Prize for

European Women Poets. From 2005-2012 she was the Editor in Chief of Poetry Review;

she is now the Professor of Poetry at the University of Roehampton, where she is the

Director of the Roehampton Poetry Centre and Editor of Poem. A Fellow and Council

Member of the Royal Society of Literature, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Fellow

of the English Association and Trustee of the Wordsworth Trust, her publications

include twenty-seven volumes of poetry, criticism and philosophy of language. She has

received the Newdigate Prize, the Cholmondeley Award, a Hawthornden Fellowship,

Kathleen Blundell and Oppenheimer-John Downes Awards from the Society of Authors,

a number of Writer’s Awards from both the English and the Welsh Arts Councils, and

several Poetry Book Society commendations, and she has been shortlisted twice for both

the T.S. Eliot Prize and Forward Prizes. She has held a number of international

fellowships and served on international juries in Canada, Ireland, Slovenia and the UK.

She writes frequently for the national press and frequently presents on BBC national

radio, and has collaborated with leading musicians, scientists and artists. Her Selected

Poems recently appeared in the US (2013) China (2014), Romania (2015) and Ukraine

(2015). This spring she published The Catch (Penguin) and this autumn Lyric Cousins:

Musical Form in Poetry appears. She is at work on a new biography of Mary Shelley.



Dante’s Cave

Velika Dolina, Skocjan

Finally I came

to the end of the world

to a limestone cliff

falling in pale steps

and far below a pool

somehow out of myth

proving that there

was nothing but the rock

to hold me up to raise me

into that clear air

where crows were looping where the eye

of God was gold

and inattentive then

I saw the end is air

and falling it is clean

and lovely it is blue.




see them walking

between trees I

but seeing is

no more than guessing

at the shapes

darkly printed

in the dark

as if the past

were all one cave

where we squat


by our fire

as our dreams

flicker behind us

on the wall

where we have placed

our hands where once

we placed our hands

wanting to catch

what we saw moving

there those beasts

leaping and falling

in the dark

as if they could be

ours as if

they came to us

and became us

because of firelight





In the morning air

voices fill and empty

beside the barn under

the walnut trees

one continual linked pouring

the way arcades go

linking and pouring linked

and poured their speech is one

continual discourse

raising hands to gesture

speaking on and on

in the shade under

the cypress trees they do not

know the morning or the evening

when it comes

they only know this speaking

that rises and falls

in them like song.


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