I Slip into French like Tolstoy

My fifth poetry collection, I Slip into French like Tolstoy, is now published.

This varied collection explores the themes of death and philosophy in Tolstoy’s War and Peace, the reality and horror of mental health issues, nature, and the catering industry.

Cover design and pen and ink illustrations by Mark Sheeky.

2023 is the year that I finally got round to reading War and Peace by Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy after having a dusty copy for over 10 years that cost 30p from a charity shop. (A lifetime achievement! I have his image as a screensaver on my desktop, anyway..). So I wrote my first six poems inspired by it. The title of this collection, and the first piece, refers to the way the Russian aristocracy slip into French when they lose their Russian values, a bit like an aside, or slipping into another character. The first line refers to Pierre Bezukhov who joined the Freemasons and vowed to love death. Tall order? Then we witness the musings of the character Andrei Bolkonsky as he lies next to his enemy in a war tent. Crikey. Does he forgive him? And…pourquoi avons-nous peur de la mort? Why are we afraid of death?

I Slip into French like Tolstoy

At last he wears the Freemason badge that says he loves death
Oh, death…
while his enemy groans beside him
feeling blood pump into his absent leg

A rip in the war tent reveals a cloud
plump full of petty vanities
floating over black fields

He went to war just to feel something
To lift himself out of the animal experience
instead of nourishing contempt at la vie
Yielding to sloth potatoes
Raging over fluffy conversations at parties
and his enemy groans beside him
nostrils eating low notes of butcher’s slab

Pourquoi avons-nous peur de la mort?
I slip into French like Tolstoy

Why do we fear death?
Have we not, then, lived?
Have we only lived for ourselves?
Tut Tut…
His regret winces before the Russian Grandmaster Reaper unsheathes his scythe
I love death
I love and forgive my enemy
Pourquoi avons-nous peur de la mort?
I slip into French like Tolstoy

Slave mined diamonds from our pestled earth are not enough
Those jagged reflections of want
It is not our earth
We are mere serfs in frigid winters
We don’t own rakes
We eat fallen rye crumbs from golden plates

© Deborah Edgeley

Album release 2/12/22 Lou Salome Empathy With Daisies by Fall in Green

Excited to announce that our 4th album, Lou Salome Empathy With Daisies, is out today, 2nd December 2022!

Born in Russia in 1861, Lou Andreas-Salomé is remembered for her friendships with the great thinkers of her day. As well as being a poet, author, narrator and essayist, Salomé was the first female psychoanalyst, and muse to Friedrich Nietzsche, Paul Rée, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Sigmund Freud.

In 2022, Stefano Santachiara, the Italian author of a biographical play about Salomé’s life invited us to create a new work on the theme, and this album is the result; a new biographical work which explores the life of Salomé, and her relationships.

Each track explores a different aspect of her personality and relationships. Entwined in Infinity, for example, explores the minds of Salomé and Nietzsche. The Bird in Borrowed Feathers looks at Friedrich Carl Andreas, and Cosmic Solitude, Give Me Your Pain, and Sit With Your Ghost explores her deep relationship with the poet Rilke.

The album is rounded off with a new musical version of Richard Dadd’s poem The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke, and a new translation of the Rilke poem, The Flower of Farewell.

The music for the live premiere performance was based on solo piano. Here the music is enhanced with orchestral instruments, guitars, synthesizers, music box, and even the rhythmic mock-quill of Neitzsche!

Click here to purchase.

Crewe Tree of Light Ceremony: Sky Robes of Celeste

Sky Robes of Celeste

Sky robes of Celeste sparkle in winter’s breath
Studded with polished buttons of silver stars
Swish of indigo silk cyclorama
the smile of a golden crescent
the Plough edged with violet lace

Tree roots dormant
Oak stasis in weathered rocks
The sleeping burrow of tiny worms await
yet the cemetery carries whispers of rich veined springs

From emerald to russet
the chlorophyll fades as centuries turn
yet through frost iced ancestors’ soil
beloved snowdrops peep…

Sandalwood curls conjure
the labyrinth of memory

We dance with our ancestors to a silent tune
We listen to their gift of crimson treasure
pulsing their song
lit by her moon


This poem was commissioned by Crewe Council for the Tree of Light Ceremony. Performed by Fall in Green at Crewe cemetery, 3rd December 2021.

Things To Make and Do

Bikini clad dip
into giant moving body of blue
without flinching
yet he flinched
Memories of a science lesson
where you had to draw the digestive system from memory
make a list of pieces then jig-saw them in
to the red nosed man in Operation
so if you unravelled the gut
it would stretch around four houses
and all that time she sat in warm blood
thinking it was a bit of warm wee
and the old school cleaner got her a hammock pad and said it’s your period

Uncle Jonathon strode in
like he was in a movie
Her dainty breaststroke versus his front crawl
head turning to a macho rhythmic gasp
to check if each side of the sea was still there
thinking of the coffee dribble by the kettle
He was thinking of his sums
The end of the tax year
to take his mind off the bikini
Tables, graphs, pi squared, algebraic muddles, leaky pens, computer screens
Pens in Star Trek cups
Pencils with dirty cracked erasers like his eye wrinkles
Formulations, cogitations, lines of logic
Timetables, clients, pound signs.
That coffee dribble
has been there since last week
Then he thought of the chimney that he could fix when he got paid.
Front crawl

She thought more of guts, liver, heart and spleen
Holding hands, the beating heart
Memento mori
Forcing blood as a blanket of soothe
Where was the list of things to jigsaw in?

Taken from Super 8 Magicscape (2021)

Dead Hand poem translated by Chandra Gurung published in Nepapese Magazine Sabdha Sanyohan

My poem, Dead Hand, from Solitary Child: Friend of Immortals, translated by Chandra Gurung, is published by Sabdha Sanyohan. Dead Hand is a tribute to Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, about a passionate yet destructive love that transcends death. The poem also is performed by Fall in Green, on our album, Apocalypse of Clowns, with music and visual art by Mark Sheeky.

Dead Hand

On the moor
Ragged as you were
I saw you
through the cracked window
Where my dead hand touched yours
Where my name was etched in three on the wooden desk

Your dark long locks fought the wind
like your soul
MY Heathcliff
You destroyed everything

Yes, I became a lady, yet, I loved Edgar not
it was always you

Your face I saw
when I tangled in flesh
trying to make a hybrid us
with the wrong man

You walk this earth without me, yet
I walk with you
in you

I look into your eyes of pain
and I weep
until you return to me