Esto Perpetua by SA Todd –  a review

Someone once said that poets are the conscience of a nation – and I think that is true to some extent.  However I have always felt that the power of a poet is in being able to express those feelings and emotions we all share but which most of us cannot put into words.

Esto Perpetua is such a book.  Intrigued by the title I resorted to Google for a translation and came up with: ‘Is this forever’, ‘this is forever and ‘may she live forever’.  All of them evocative and all of them subtly different and perhaps this is appropriate for a book of poetry – built upon the shifting sands of human emotions – why would you want to pin down a fixed meaning when there could be so many…?

From the outset this book draws you in, the prologue is a witty noir-ish prose scene in which the author reveals something of himself and his motives to an unnamed intruder….”Tell him that real poetry has returned.”  he declares…

As I began to read the poems  I could sense the echoes of Tennyson, Browning and TS Elliott in the meter and style, but this was not simply a pastiche or homage to older ‘greater’ poets.  Todd creates his own distinctive voice dressed up in these ‘borrowed’ clothes.  Sometimes moving, sometimes profound, sometimes quirky – he moves between the witty cleverness of Food For Thought (quoted in full below) to the brief but damning social critique of ‘On Salvation’ to the reflective and heart rending poems of Unexpected Meeting or Midsummer Images (Quoted in full below).

I think poetry speaks best for itself so, with the kind permission of S.A.Todd,  I have reproduced two of his poems in full (Midsummer Images and Food for Thought Copyright 2012 S.A.Todd). Details of how to purchase Esto Perpetua can be found at the foot of this post.

Midsummer Images

The clean skies.
The dirty roof guttering.
The elusive, icy shadows.
The cool, shadowed lies.
The churning stomach.

I wonder where you are…

Bird without fear treads the road.
Dead and drying flowers, crumbling in
the delicious breeze.
Humid, boiling green.
Torpid dogs slowly evaporating in their yards.

I wonder what you’re doing…

The bright white houses on the hill.
Forests of cables, seas of powerlines.
Seven screams of children playing, still,
Their scraped-knee tears turning to steam
under the relentless UV assault.

I wonder if you ever think of me…

My memories pay homage to that summer afternoon
Absorbing what it might be like to be You.
Before age sounded the division bell
and the aeroplane jetstream cut my sky in two.

Food For Thought

Monosyllabic nonsense
Tastes best in a layer
in oxymoron BLT
on onomatopoeia.

Low fat pentameter
(Iambic or not)
Will give indigestion,
so don’t have a lot.

A short, rigid structure
Three good squares a day
I find is the best
To keep critics at bay.

I’m sure you’ll agree
for I’ve long promoted
That poets who ramble
Should be hung, drawn, and quoted.

Esto Perpetua by S.A. Todd is available to purchase from