Book: Corpus

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Author: Michael Symmons Roberts
Publisher: Jonathan Cape

Corpus—Michael Symmons Roberts’ ambitious and inventive fourth collection—centres around the body. Mystical, philosophical and erotic, the bodies in these poems move between different worlds—life and after-life, death and resurrection—encountering pathologists’ blades, geneticists’ maps and the wounds of love and war. Equally at ease with scripture (Jacob wrestling the Angel in “Choreography”) and science (“Mapping the Genome”), these poems are a thrilling blend of modern and ancient wisdom, a profound and lyrical exploration of the mysteries of the body:

So the martyrs took the lamb.
It tasted rich, steeped in essence
Of anchovy. They picked it clean
And found within, a goose, its pink
Beak in the lamb’s mouth like a tongue.

Ranging effortlessly between the physical extremes of death—from putrefaction to purification—and life—drought and flood, hunger and satiation—the poems in Corpus speak most movingly of “living the half-life between two elements”, of what it is to be unique and luminously alive.

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