One lark, one horse? The epigraph for Michael Hofmann’s new collection is a jest quoted in Carole Angier’s biography of Primo Levi. Goldberg sells pâté – lark pâté. Cohen asks how he can afford to. Goldberg says he adds a bit of horse. ‘How much horse?’ ‘One lark, one horse’ comes the answer.
Now sixty-one, Hofmann plays with ageing in poems that act as a kind of antechamber to Larkin’s ‘The Old Fools’. In ‘LV’ he conjures up the years ‘of stiff joints and the small pains/that will do me in’; in ‘On Forgetting’ he describes how ‘My spelling isn’t what it was.