The Double-Ended Key (published by Acumen Publications) takes its title after a poem in the book about the double-ended key that Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Cambridge (1774-1850), the tenth child of George III, owned, which fitted the locks of St James's Park and Hyde Park, of which he was the Ranger. I now own the key and it appears on the cover of the book.This is my first collection; at the age of 68 years.
I was a great friend of Ted Hughes in the last twenty years of his life and was actually 'hurt' into poetry by his death - 175 lines long, ‘Memories, Reflections, Gratitudes', was my first published poem and appears, somewhat extended, in the book. Affirmations for my book by Ruth Fainlight and Tom Paulin on the back cover single out the poem - 'the longest and most moving poem in The Double-Ended Key ('...The mingled music of his voice - / like God auditioning for Man...'; '...his big slow bull-like turn back into home...'; '...For having seen you cast / like Merlin laying on a spell...'; '...Your writing, an uncoiling spring, / only matched in manuscripts by Bach...'; '...Your friendship was a miracle to me...'). There are twenty other pieces about Ted Hughes as well, including one about his funeral ('...We stood and watched you driven off. / With our tears, a heavier rain came down...').
Two other long poems (sequences of poems) are about my father and mother. I saw my father for only three hours in all of my conscious life and my working mother felt she had to send me to boarding kindergarten and boarding school (the latter aged five). Moved to write them in 2006 in the month before undergoing one of the most complex surgical procedures conceivable, these (written as much in sorrow as in anguish) represent some 'coming to terms' with the abuses of absence ('Absence has the grimmest face of all the masks of love').
I have been told that ‘the whole of human life' is in this 'impressive collection' (Paulin, thank you Tom), not for the 'catwalk voyeur of fashionably anorexic slim volumes' (Jon Stallworthy, thank you Jon); one reader called it a ‘cascading kaleidoscope of emotions'; another felt moved to mention George Herbert on three occasions.
Order online here or contact Patricia Oxley, Acumen Publications.
Roy Davids has been a dealer in manuscripts, an auctioneer, a marketing director, a teacher, and a collector of portraits, poetical manuscripts and porcelain. His website is www.roydavids.com.