Poets have their rivers – Charlotte Smith has the Arun, Michael Drayton the Ankor – and like these precursors, Alan Baker has picked the sonnet as the vehicle to translate the ever-changing fluvial reality of water at its riverrine transformations into a stop-go sequence, that changes perspective with each fresh look, each new thought. Written at speed, ‘the Trent’, becomes Baker’s ‘mutable, silent, ultimately unreliable frontier’: he can’t keep mute immobile vigilance, like a fisherman, but is plunged into voluble, repeated but variable response. The narrator is quite sincere, though as unreliable as a riverbank; he doesn’t know whether he has been invaded by the river or if he has invented it. Both are true, of course – these fleet, accurate glimpses of that mutability are charted with finesse.
— Robert Sheppard
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