Saturday, 22 December 2012

George Szirtes 'In The Land of the Giants' - Poetry Cafe, Covent Garden

Last Saturday I spent a very pleasant hour and a half In The Land of the Giants, which on this occasion was the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden, for the launch of George Szirtes's new collection of poems for children.

I know George very slightly and I was quite charmed that he remembered me. The atmosphere of the reading was just very peaceful and lovely and I think we all found it to be an oasis from bad news, end-of-year madness, and so on. The poems were interspersed with guitar music and singing from Andy Kirkham, which included classics and originals and a bit of everything. There were children in the audience, who were obviously pretty enraptured, and I thought it was important that they were there.

Here are a few more photos, all of which are by Habie Schwarz:

I wasn't sure which of the wonderful poems in this varied book to include here. The subject matter ranges widely; some are fantastic for younger children, some are probably more to be appreciated by parents. There is also a selection of translations from the Hungarian, by Ottó Orbán and Zoltán Zelk, among others. I loved 'The Lost Sock Mystery', which references MI5 and which by a happy coincidence I first read online while rolling socks and watching Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with Alec Guinness. However, this poem is one that I found particularly haunting and truthful.


Space comes out at night
When stars look far away
And clouds stray
Across the moon
Like shadows on a silver tray

Space grows thick at night
When you're sure it's there
Not like in the daytime
When the sheer blank air
Is simply light
In flight

Space is when you know
That earth is not alone
That like other planets
It is a spinning stone

And you grow dizzy with the thought
Turning in your sleep
Which too is made of space
Dense and dark and deep.

And far beyond your dreams
Beyond their weightless mass,
Spin molecules and stars,
And fires and streams of gas

That wake to winter dark
In our spinning ark,
And you, small flickering spark,
You make your mark.

Poem © George Szirtes. Photos © Habie Schwarz. Used by permission.


  1. Thank you for this. A beautiful poem...

  2. Thanks for stopping by! It's a lovely collection of poems if you haven't seen it yet...very varied in style and subject.