Peterloo Poets published three volumes of Brian Waltham’s poems: Music for Brass, 1990, Masterclass, 1994, and The Soldier on the Pier, 2002. A further collection of unpublished poems, The Hang Of It, was brought out in 2011 by Line Press, edited by Caroline Cooper, with the help of John Mole and Will Wain. If you would like to enquire about purchasing The Hang Of It, or any other of Brian’s titles please contact us here

The poems below are all from The Hang Of It, 2011.

Wimbledon and…

One moment Mr Becker. 
Will the dark-haired girl 
In the white blouse and red scarf, 
Apparently on her own, second row in 
The north stand, four from the end, 
Please go urgently to Flat 3A, 
Fourteenth floor, Jubilee Tower, 
East Bexley, where a viewer who 
Has seen her only for a moment 
Knows that he would never 
Get tired of her face. 
Thank you Mr Becker. 
Forty love...


Ah but there are days that come
Fresh from under stars so close and
Clear that you want to stoop;
Days that hug enough of dew
Never to be knowing and old,
That keep the tang of wet in roots
And wisdom gets no further than
A droplet in a nettle, teaching
The sun about colour.
Then, as morning stays early, there
Can be the very near, catching the
Run of an ant on a wall, or this
Intimate breath of moss or that
Spider tying a can to a tap.
Then, as the roof-tiles prink out
Their wiry lichen, the clouds
Argue about shape and how many
Shadows to let race across the
Hillside maize.
Then, still new, it is old as grass,
Old as the first rain, old as the
First creatures, new as wonder.


For Caroline [Brian’s wife from 1975 – his death]

For all the talk of magic
And once-only music,
I reached your shore
With stuff not fit to land.
The truth is not storms or greatness,
But a hull that would always
Finish in the sand.
Not Odysseus, but a
Bankrupt from rotting quays,
Sewage-silt, sargasso weed,
Come to find your rock and
Yarn about the murderous seas.

Brian’s first published poem, ‘My Father’, below. The £12 he received for its publication in The Listener gave him more pleasure than all the money he made as a litigator; he spent it on a good Indian dinner for himself and Caroline.

My Father

Courteous in death as in life, 
It seemed that he stepped back
And indeed like a courtier in a dark hall
Stepped back shedding detail, a last kindness 
To blur away the focus.
And so it is these years later
That I think of goodness with no eye to detail
A trick of light among shade and sun. 

Below, Brian’s poem ‘Radio 3’.
Watch a film of Brian’s grandson Vlad Waltham playing Bach’s Prelude from the Suite No. 1 in G major
at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London here