Degrees of Twilight by Maggie Butt


Maggie Butt is an ex-journalist and BBC television producer turned poet and novelist.

Her poetry collection Degrees of Twilight (2015) follows Sancti Clandestini – Undercover Saints, an illustrated hagiography of imaginary saints, and  Ally Pally Prison Camp, which tells a little-known first world war story. Earlier collections were petite and Lipstick. Her novel House of Dreams was published as Maggie Brookes.

Maggie is an Associate Professor at Middlesex University and an Advisory Fellow for the Royal Literary Fund. She has judged the Frogmore, Ver Poets and Barnet poetry competitions, and this year is judging the Ware and Segora.

‘Degrees of Twilight’ is the title poem of Maggie’s fifth collection 






















Degrees of Twilight






Civil Twilight


The shrill of the park-keeper’s whistle

summons night. Abandoning our game

we dash for the gates, watched from every bush

and shadow, a hundred eyes glinting.

If the gates are shut will we attempt to climb

(the slip of bars, the spikes on top, the dizzy fall),

or try to find that fox-hole in the fence

behind the big oak tree? Any way to flee

the gnarled hobgoblins of the dark.





Nautical Twilight


On land, white flowers vibrate with urgency,

insist their white upon the eye; trees and houses

blacken to silhouette against an ultraviolet sky.

Out here, a blueing of light across the sea

and sky, curved with the curvature of earth.

These moments with both horizon and stars in view,

before a gradual losing; light ebbs away 

like energy, like memory, till more is gone than left.









Astronomical Twilight


One by one, the stars reveal themselves

in slow strip-tease, as if they were not always there

beneath the brilliance.  Glimmers of small

compensations, way finders, hints of a populated

vastness, a depth of understanding hidden

by the glare of day; reminders of our smallness,

of the length of time it takes their spark to reach us,

dimming across distances, of the shortness

of twilight, the closeness of night.



Twilight is defined according to the sun’s angle below the horizon: 6º below –  civil twilight, 12º below -nautical twilight, 18 º below – astronomical twilight



Maggie Butt


Oak by Maggie Butt