Saturday, April 17, 2021

ON THIS DAY 2020 I heard the ambulances in the lockdown silence and wove them into a Leigh Hunt sonnet

ON THIS DAY 2020, after coronavirus took hold and what we thought of as THE lockdown matured into 'the new normal', I wrote my response to the much-reported urban 'hush' as one of my ‘14 Standards’, using Romantic sonnets.  This one was published on the Poetry and Covid website, here: Six Poems ( along with a number of the other OTD 2020 poems that I'm currently blogging. 

But here’s the poem again, in case you missed it. It is a transposition of the poem named in its title. Obviously, mine is not about The Nile. When somebody asks me what I remember of the lockdown it will be sitting in the yard, reading Hazlitt or Leigh Hunt, and hearing the ambulances going up and down Smithdown Road. It was about this time I also noticed the neighbourhood song-thrush, but he had to wait for me to be reading John Clare to penetrate my sonnets! 


The hush

The Nile by Leigh Hunt


now windows open on a

different world

hushed streets empty

of thronging bands breeze

stale the trickle of breached pipes

under paving between drains

routine buckles these oars of fire

dipped into treacle lake

under flaming sirens

ambulances whine as anxiety pools

red wine below floorboards keeps

time to stern brooding

fruity with breath’s

imagined judgement


17th April 2020

 I write a response to the Poetry And Coivid website and AHRC project here: Pages: ON THIS DAY 2020 I wrote this lacuna-pocked poem as a version of one of Coleridge's sonnets (

This poem is from the ’14 Standards’ part of British Standards, which you can read about here:

Pages: Robert Sheppard: 14 Standards from British Strandards is complete as one sonnet appears at the virtual WOW Festival 2020 (hub post)

British Standards is the third book of the ‘English Strain’ project: Pages: Transpositions of Hartley Coleridge: the end of British Standards (and of The English Strain project) (

You may read about the first book and second book here. Indeed, you may now buy them.

Book One, The English Strain is described here (on a post that was written before it gained its title!).

There’s another post on Book Two, Bad Idea here .

I am delighted to say that Book One, The English Strain is available from Shearsman; see here:

I am also delighted to say that Book Two, Bad Idea is available from Knives Forks and Spoons; see here: