I’ll skip past the odd but very interesting Days of 1987 with its fabulous opening lines:
I was lying out on the caesium lawn,
on the ribs and ligatures of a split deckchair
Instead, I’ll stop at Pastorale, which is about as far from rural idyll as you can go. The narrator watches the cars racing down the motorway from the verge. He also sees roadkill, old cans, haystacks and sheep, which he describes as “ancillary, bacillary blocks of anthrax.”
Humanity and nature are set in total opposition. In fact, even nature seems to contain oppositions within itself. While the farmer tried to make order, the narrator walked “contre-sens” (more French, perhaps because no English equivalent quite gets that idea of contrariness and senselessness in the one phrase), the cars “razored past” – everything speaks of a split, and death is all around. It’s a ten-line poem, set in five unrhymed couplets, and my favourite two lines are probably these ones following, which compress so much into few words. The narrator walks:
noting a hedgehog’s defensive needle-spill,
the bullet-copper and bullet-steel of pheasants
So another bleak view of the world slicing through a veneer of beauty. You wouldn't expect anything less from MH.