This third volume of Tristram Cooke’s poetry follows on from the previous two collections, with each poem suitably accompanied by an original painting, executed by his now-habitual artist, Cherry, who once again captures the essence of each of the poems in her accurately portrayed and vivid images. But it is of course the poems themselves that hold the reader’s attention, this time twenty-five in number, and with once again a kind of variations-on-a-theme ever-present, as a quixotic element runs through a lot of this new collection.
The title painting portrays this very well, with the binding friendship of the wayward adventurers equally present in the poem A LIFETIME FRIEND. Other themes are equally dealt with throughout, whether taking off from the annals of English or Polish history, or praising great men and artists such as Goya and Gabriel García Márquez. Mexico figures quite naturally in many of the poems, directly or indirectly, as the author has established his home there for some years now, and we can read about Hurricane Odile that wreaked havoc in the poet’s home town, while his new-found family and friends figure prominently as potential lifesavers and guardians of tranquility and peace.
A sense of deep-rooted Englishness also permeates through this new collection, running from Uncle Fred to Wat Tyler, and cavaliers versus Roundheads.
A poet can never overlook or forget his roots, and this mixture of the familiar and the unknown makes for a melting-pot of suggestive imagery which the poet brings to the boil with subtle and unique suggestions that combine it as one voice and one common theme: the poet will always go on staggering along his chosen path, and this third volume lets us know that very forcefully in Mr. Cooke’s case.