Brian Patten

Brian Patten Poems

You lose your love for her and then
It is her who is lost,
And then it is both who are lost,
And nothing is ever as perfect as you want it to be.
...

When I think of her sparkling face
And of her body that rocked this way and that,
When I think of her laughter,
Her jubilance that filled me,
...

You come to me quiet as rain not yet fallen
Afraid of how you might fail yourself your
dress seven summers old is kept open
in memory of sex, smells warm, of boys,
...

I will give you a poem when you wake tomorrow.
It will be a peaceful poem.
It won’t make you sad.
It won’t make you miserable.
...

When I got my finger stuck up my nose
I went to a doctor, who said,
"Nothing like this has happened before,
We will have to chop off your head."
...

Gust becos I cud not spel
It did not mean I was daft
When the boys in school red my riting
Some of them laffed
...

And sometimes it happens that you are friends and then
You are not friends,
And friendship has passed.
And whole days are lost and among them
...

'There's something new in the river,'
The fish said as it swam.
'It's got no scales, no fins and no gills,
And ignores the impassable dam.'
...

When I was a child I sat an exam.
This test was so simple
There was no way i could fail.
...

I have changed the numbers on my watch,
And now perhaps something else will change.
Now perhaps
At precisely 2a.m.
...

He said:

'Let's stay here
Now this place has emptied
...

Who brought flowers to this grave?
I, said the wren.
I brought them as seeds and then
Watched them grow.
...

One night a poem came up to a poet
From now on, it said, you must wear a mask.
What kind of mask? asked the poet.
A rose mask, said the poem.
...

Sleeping beside you I dreamt
I woke beside you;
Waking beside you
I thought I was dreaming.
...

Doubt shall not make an end of you
nor closing eyes lose your shape
when the retina's light fades;
what dawns inside me will light you.
...

I do not know what brought me here
Away from where I’ve hardly ever been and now
Am never likely to go again.
...

They say her words were like balloons
with strings I could not hold,
that her love was something in a shop
cheap and far too quickly sold;
...

Mr Ifonly sat down and he sighed,
I could have done more if only I had tried
...

Our teacher told us one day he would leave
And sail across a warm blue sea
...

How long does a man live after all?
A thousand days or only one?
One week or a few centuries?
How long does a man spend living or dying
...

Brian Patten Biography

Born near Liverpool's docks, he attended Sefton Park School in the Smithdown Road area of Liverpool, where he was noted for his essays and greatly encouraged in his work by Harry Sutcliffe his form teacher. He left school at fifteen and began work for The Bootle Times writing a column on popular music. One of his first articles was on Roger McGough and Adrian Henri, two pop-oriented Liverpool Poets who later joined Patten in a best-selling poetry anthology called The Mersey Sound, drawing popular attention to his own contemporary collections Little Johnny's Confession (1967) and Notes to the Hurrying Man (1969). Patten received early encouragement from Philip Larkin.

The collections Storm Damage (1988) and Armada (1996) are more varied, the latter featuring a sequence of poems concerning the death of his mother and memories of his childhood. Armada is perhaps Patten's most mature and formal book, dispensing with much of the playfulness of former work. He has also written comic verse for children, notably Gargling With Jelly and Thawing Frozen Frogs.

Patten's style is generally lyrical and his subjects are primarily love and relationships. His 1981 collection Love Poems draws together his best work in this area from the previous sixteen years. Tribune has described Patten as "the master poet of his genre, taking on the intricacies of love and beauty with a totally new approach, new for him and for contemporary poetry." Charles Causley once commented that he "reveals a sensibility profoundly aware of the ever-present possibility of the magical and the miraculous, as well as of the granite-hard realities. These are undiluted poems, beautifully calculated, informed - even in their darkest moments - with courage and hope."

Patten writes extensively for children as well as adults. He has been described as a highly engaging performer, and gives readings frequently. Over the years he has read alongside such poets as Pablo Neruda, Allen Ginsberg, Stevie Smith, Laurie Lee, and Robert Lowell. His books have in recent years been translated into Italian, Spanish, German and Polish. His children's novel Mr Moon's Last Case won a special award from the Mystery Writers of America Guild. In 2002 Patten accepted the Cholmondeley Award for services to poetry. Together with Roger McGough and the late Adrian Henri, he was honoured with the Freedom of the City of Liverpool.

The Best Poem Of Brian Patten

And Nothing Is Ever As You Want It To Be

You lose your love for her and then
It is her who is lost,
And then it is both who are lost,
And nothing is ever as perfect as you want it to be.

In a very ordinary world
A most extraordinary pain mingles with the small routines,
The loss seems huge and yet
Nothing can be pinned down or fully explained.

You are afraid.
If you found the perfect love
It would scald your hands,
Rip the skin from your nerves,
Cause havoc with a computered heart.

You lose your love for her and then it is her who is lost.
You tried not to hurt and yet
Everything you touched became a wound.
You tried to mend what cannot be mended,
You tried, neither foolish nor clumsy,
To rescue what cannot be rescued.

You failed,
And now she is elsewhere
And her night and your night
Are both utterly drained.

How easy it would be
If love could be brought home like a lost kitten
Or gathered in like strawberries,
How lovely it would be;
But nothing is ever as perfect as you want it to be.

Brian Patten Comments

Vladimir Stojnic 11 April 2008

I read poems by Brian Patten in serbian. They were brilliantly translated into serbian by writer David Albahari. My favorite poem is No taxi available. Can anybody post that poem here or give me a link to it. I would love to have that poem as original in english.

26 34 Reply
Anna Russell 09 September 2006

There should be a law that states every human being should have to read at least one Brian Patten poem in their lifetime. Each piece is a gem all of its own. His writing is direct, funny, sad, beautiful and heartwarming, sometimes all at the same time. Never pretentious, always readable - to me, this is poetry at its best. Hugs Anna xxx

34 24 Reply
Eric Toft 17 March 2012

I believe we all have shared an emotion that Sir Patten has told. If we just admit it!

28 29 Reply
Shatha Alsaadi 29 March 2012

Dear Brian, How very nice to write to you and I remember that I was intyroduced to your poems when I was in Cambridge and I bought the little book which has great poems. I feel when read your poems, I feel the depth of feeling that I cannot fathom. I read YOU POEM Room which says: Room you're toneless now, Room you do'nt belong to me I want another room I want one without your tattymemories. Loads of Great wishes Shatha Alsaadi

28 29 Reply
Paul Sebastian 17 March 2014

Dear Brian, Your poem, Nothing is Ever As You Want it to Be, is brilliant! Thanks. Paul Sebastan

26 20 Reply
saeed khan 05 June 2021

i need new commer.

1 0 Reply
Susan Jane von Achten 30 October 2020

His poetry touches me deep inside. As I read the words I find myself hanging on to them; wanting to savour every word. I am so happy there is a Brian Patten; without him life would not be as rich, colourful, rounded, deep or moving. Thank you.

2 0 Reply
Carol jeter 01 August 2020

I love the poems quoted in the movie, Possession, with Jeremy Northam and Gwyneth Paltrow. are they in a book of Poetry?

1 0 Reply
Brijesh Shrivastava 15 April 2020

Chutiyagiri kyu karne ka

1 0 Reply
Yeetyeet 05 March 2020

Love it ehguhguohgouthboih5tohbtoihbgotrh

4 1 Reply

Brian Patten Quotes

When in public poetry should take off its clothes and wave to the nearest person in sight; it should be seen in the company of thieves and lovers rather than that of journalists and publishers.

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