Having been encouraged early on by W. H. Auden and Robert Graves, Herbert Lomas published his first poetry collection in 1969 since when a further eight collections have appeared. Ted Hughes wrote of his much-acclaimed eighth collection: 'I've read "A Useless Passion" through twice - each time at one sitting, and dipped into it a lot, lately - [The poems] are among your best, I think. Absolutely solid, surprising, beautifully compressed and shaped - and presenting a life-size living portrait of you. That humour - vital part of the whole impact - very congenial to me - You make some marvellous prismatic, penetrating, visionary talismans'. The present volume contains all nine of Lomas's published poetry books - including "Letters in the Dark" which was an Observer Book of the Year - together with a recent unpublished collection, "Nightlights". Herbert Lomas has received Guinness, Arvon and Cholmondely awards for his poetry, and he is a also a highly-regarded translator. He has translated fourteen books from Finnish and his anthology "Contemporary Finnish Poetry" won the Poetry Society's 1991 biennial translation award. Herbert Lomas thinks of poetry as a witness to the good and the incomprehensible and an opportunity for the reader to create new virtual experiences through the imagination. Survival may well depend on humour, which he regards as divine, and so he has not left it out in spite of the seriousness of his poetic search. He hopes the reader will share with him the mystery of life and how the Unknown keeps His cards close to his chest, smiling.