Sailing the Forest

Selected Poems

Robin Robertson

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A selection of poems spanning the career of a poet of the uncanny
Filled with haunting and visionary poems, Sailing the Forest is a selection of the finest work from an essential voice in contemporary poetry. Robin Robertson’s deceptively spare and mythically charged work is beautifully brutal, ancient and immediate, and capable of instilling menace and awe into our everyday landscape. These are poems drawn in shadow, tinged with salt and blood, that disarm the reader with their precise language and dreamlike illuminations. Robertson’s unique world is a place of forked storms where “Rain . . . is silence turned up high” and we can see “the hay marry the fire / and the fire walk.”
     Through five extraordinary collections, Robertson has captured the intangible, illusory world in razor-sharp language. “The genius of this Scots poet is for finding the sensually charged moment—in a raked northern seascape, in a sexual or gustatory encounter—and depicting it in language that is simultaneously spare and ample, and reminiscent of early Heaney or Hughes” (The New Yorker). Sailing the Forest reveals a wild-hearted poet at the height of his talents.


Praise for Sailing the Forest

Praise for Robin Robertson

"Robin Robertson’s bracing book offers a host of pleasures: rich and briny atmospheres, the burr and bristle of a fine ear, an eye restless for exact and searing detail. But the greatest of these is watching a writer come into his own, in poems increasingly compelling and large in their embrace, their dark and lustrous landscapes fully inhabited, fully haunted." —Mark Doty, National Book Award-winning author of Fire to Fire

"Robin Robertson is one of the finest contemporary poets, as this collection amply shows. His is a wonderful hard clear music, and the muscularity and toughness of his verse is everywhere counterpointed by a deep-lying tenderness. Sailing the Forest is a marvellously buoyant vessel." —John Banville, Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea 

“Each poem comes to us so cleansed of excess, so concentrated and perfectly pared down to its essence we can only wonder at the adamantine sharpness of its edges.” —Billy Collins

“Robertson is a superstar of Scottish poetry.”Adam Newey, The Guardian

"There's an oneiric charge and intensity to many of these poems that builds to a fabular clarity of thought, which is at once precise in its particularity and placeless. Whether in his extraordinarily fresh renderings of Ovid or his own imaginings, Robertson's lines have the luminosity of myth. The Wrecking Light is a work of extraordinary visionary power, its music bleak and beautiful, spare and unsparing. If there were justice in the world, it would win every prize going." Adam Newey, The Guardian

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Robin Robertson

  • Robin Robertson is from the northeast coast of Scotland. He has published five collections of poetry—most recently Hill of Doors—and has received numerous of accolades, including the Petrarca Prize, the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and all three Forward Prizes. In 2006 he published The Deleted World, a selection of English versions of poems by Tomas Tranströmer, and has since translated two plays of Euripides’, Medea and The Bacchae.

  • Robin Robertson © Niall McDiarmid.


Available Formats and Book Details

Sailing the Forest

Selected Poems

Robin Robertson

  • Hardcover