Mark was born in West Sussex on 27th July 1948. His father’s position in the British Navy meant that Mark’s family were posted abroad for several years, and his travels were a strong influence on him throughout his life. He had a deep feeling for the natural world which led him to landscape gardening and farming after he completed his degree and M. Litt. He came to Edinburgh to help to build an adventure playground in Wester Hailes and stayed, sustained by his desire to make a difference to the lives of those who needed it. He worked with children in areas of multi deprivation and adults with severe and complex learning difficulties. He married Deborah and after the cot death of their baby son, Jonathan, had a daughter Lizzie. His poetry reflects his interests in the natural world and travelling, as well as his love for his family, compassion, intellect, and passion for words. Being one of the founding members of the Shore Poets gave him a fruitful context for writing poetry himself and fostering it in others. Mark died of pancreatic cancer on 27 February 1999.
A year after Mark’s death, Stewart Conn and Hugh Dailly edited his posthumous collection A Memory of Fields (Akros, 2000).
For Jonathan 13/9/85 – 8/11/85
Cold wind shrinks rain puddles.
Stars glint beyond a watery unstable sky;
Day breaks; the season roots
And reaches through the earth
Busy about so many births.
Buds push to blossom, though some lie
Buffeted from trees before they bloom,
Close curled and cool in thickening grass.
His absence alters all the uses of this room,
Where untouched toys lie silent and entranced
Awaiting curious hands to lift the spell.
I dress here now and as an amputee can sense
The limb still there although it’s gone,
So twinges of awoken love distress this dullness
And subside to bleak certainty.
There is to be no natural pride,
No rich language of reminiscence.
Just a small ghost pedalling air,
Stomach distended with milk
Whose folds of flesh were fattening,
Whose vanishing cancelled all our care.
29th May 1986
I want today to close with English Rain
Tapping on my window in the four o’clock gloom.
I want Wellington boots, damp coats in a hallway
And to fight from a warm room against a screaming seawind
To the poached puddled gateways of fields
Where mud flanked cattle wait at winter’s end for hay.
I want trousers soaked to the thighs
From walking in the long grass
In fine misty rain that doesn’t fall
But fastens glistening droplets to my clothes and skin
And to listen to the sucking sounds of meadows as they drain.
I want to come home early from work in the afternoon
Because of the rain and sit with a book by the fire
And hear the words ‘Attention all shipping’,
And glimpse pale blue through broken cloud
And hear brown water running loud
Through the streets of the village
During a lull in a three day gale.
Today on this parched dusty plain
I want rain to start falling and not to stop
Until trees take such deep root, they can only turn green
As they begin to do in England now,
Thanks to the English Rain.
Uttar Pradesh, March 1980