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The Smug Bridegroom

The Smug Bridegroom

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One week before your operation
you've become glass to me:
a delicate vessel holding all you might be
between unsteady hands. This motion
of crossing a room could tip your libation.
I wait in the kitchen, not wanting to miss any
drop of you walking towards me. I see
pyjamas in a half-packed suitcase open
upstairs. I'm a father letting you go
for a ride with stranger, out of my sight.
Treat him well, I want to say. You don't know
his gifts: how memorable the light
has become since he stood by this window;
his breath stroking my spine in bed last night.

"This is a collection of first person poems, all of which reveal a sensitive, intelligent voice. The middle section of the book deals with the break up of a marriage and achieves a succinctness and precision I've seldom encountered elsewhere. The Smug Bridegroom brims with quality: it is lucid, economical, outstanding. By far the best poetry collection of 2002." - New Hope International (full review on

"The book is a journey through the hinterland of marriage, separation, new relationships, and heart surgery... the scale of each of these different areas seem sharply and accurately drawn together with memorable use of images... elegant and forthright cameos. The poet cares about our response, and with this comes a sense of fellow humanity." - Dreamcatcher

"It is the extended sonnet-sequence called The Rule of Earth that is the nerve-centre of the book... it is the sonnets that make this book worth buying... the tonal register is consistant throughout; the voice intimate, sensitive..." - Staple

"In poems of great subtlety and technical finesse, and without unneeded ostentation or concealment, Hamberger gives as clear an insight into love's routines and surprises as I have recently seen in any British poetry." - Magma

Robert Hamberger was born in 1957 in Whitechapel. His poems have been broadcast on Radio 4 and have appeared in many magazines and anthologies. This is his second full collection and there have also been four pamphlet collections. The above poem was, as part of a sequence, shortlisted for the Forward Prize, Best Individual Poem, in 2000.