In a fragile environment, we need to be aware of ourselves as members of a uniquely powerful species living among other species who are quite as interesting as we are but vulnerable to us because we are cleverer in more destructive ways.
I’m not much given to making shamanistic remarks about all this, but I’m a great believer in the dream life. If I can carry without spilling whatever it is that drips into my head in the night to my desk, then that’s valuable.
Pretty much the day I stopped being laureate, the poems that had been few and far between came back to me, like birds in the evening nesting in a tree.
I like eating out. I like buying beautiful paintings and being surrounded by beautiful things. I have to finance that life. I can barely afford a pension scheme because I don’t make enough money.
Pretty much every weekend, my wife and I have the shall-we-live-in-the-country conversation. I suppose it’s something to do with getting older and feeling I want to shed some of the things I’ve been doing for the last 20 years and go back to my roots.
I’ve found a different way to scent the air: already it’s a by-word for despair.
If I were to die thinking that I’d written three poems that people might read after me, I would feel that I hadn’t lived in vain. Great poets might expect the whole body of their work, but most of us – well, I would settle for a handful.
I’m not precisely saying that a really good board meeting at the MLA (Museums, Libraries and Archives Coucil) makes me want to go and write poetry, but there is a pleasure in doing that sort of thing well.
I’ve always thought that the balance between the side of my mind that knows what it is doing and the side that really hasn’t got a clue has to be carefully maintained because if you write too knowingly then you get chilly, and if you write too unknowingly you write bollocks that nobody else can understand.
Well, it’s a badge of honour for any self-respecting poet to be criticized by Auberon Waugh. But in a lot of ways my poems are very conventional, and it’s no big deal for me to write a poem in either free verse or strict form; modern poets can, and do, do both.