‘Translated Love Letters’ by Andrew McMillan was first published in The London Magazine, October/November 2009. For more from our archive and for original issues from our back catalogue, discover our Legacy Issues from 1954 onwards.

Andrew McMillan

Translated Love Letters

from Norwegian

oh love, doesn’t the fact that the world is so big,
laid out like ripe fruit
make you want to stay?

from Arabic

how I long to cleanse you
in the waters of the Tigris
how I long, as though you were a small and
priceless artefact,
to take you in my arms

from Ant-speak

I will carry you carry you
through legions of grass
protect you from the thumb,
the sole; the eager-feathered bird
will not swoop for you

from American

love is just love, and I’m in it
for the ride, o.k.?
love is just an elevator
and man you sure can push
my buttons but you’ve got a voice
that tells me just exactly
what I need to hear
and nothing else

from Russian

ended, and I would repeat it
like a lake refreezing
after momentary warmth
tell me, do you remember
the bribes to the ushers
in the opera?
me slipping roubles underneath
the table as though delivering
still-born cattle?

from him

please, love, leave,
like leaf from tree;
taking beauty,
leaving seed


41iVvLBFIIL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_Andrew McMillan‘s first collection Physical, published in June 2015 by Jonathan Cape, startled and impressed the world of contemporary poetry with its frank and moving portrait of male desire. Nominated for numerous prizes, including the prestigious Forward Prize, the Aldeburgh prize and the Guardian First Book Award, its understated compassion and unflinching honesty have assured McMillan’s status as one of Britain’s most exciting poetic voices. ‘Translated Love Letters’, published by The London Magazine early on in McMillan’s career as a poet, bears the hallmarks of playfulness and intimacy which flourish in Physical.

Physical by Andrew McMillan is published by Jonathan Cape

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