Ballads are memorable. This book was finished when the poet was 50, with too much to remember: the shadows of the greater world, the bulldozers down the street tearing through a Victorian school, the generosity of its founders, its green graceful bell tower and its nesting jackdaws turned to a cry in the air. The bricks go off to salvage and are lost in other streets but the poems remain. Ballads are bare and brief; tried by time. They salvage but they sing, stubbornly. Their stories are sure: a woman in the kitchen, Handel at his illicit feast, the Russian dog heading for space. Shakespeare stops for breath on the stairs. Mithras is the milkman. There are cats and wild cranesbill. The poems nudge us on.