BLEEDING HEART YARD
Poems by William Scammell
Bleeding Heart Yard is William Scammell’s fifth and finest collection from Peterloo. In his argument with himself and others he highlights the street credibility of the eternal verities in poems of remarkably sensuous beauty: ‘stroking the paper as if it were / all the first things and the last, / a favourite daughter’s thatch of hair, / thin flake of the moon, a creamy dust.’ Poems in this new collection include ‘A Life Elsewhere’ which won the 1989 National Poetry Competition, ‘Dunmail Raise’ (Sotherby’s Award, 1987 Arvon Competition), elegies for Norman Nicholson and Primo Levi, benedictions for his two sons, celebrations of the north, and a virtuoso mediation on Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin.
From reviews of earlier volumes:
‘Eldorado . . . finds Scammell in cornucopian mood . . . He is as much at home in a traveller’s comic United State as he is recalling bed-sit days in student London, or rendering formal French poems into English. High spirits, low life and great expectations are mixed up in one big bowl.’
Peter Porter, Observer
‘an immensely enjoyable collection . . . Scammell is the luck any small publisher deserves and I hope Jouissance sells out again and again.’
John Lucas, New Statesman
‘There are poems in Jouissance I shall be reading again and again.’
William Scammell won a Cholmondeley Award for his first book of poems, and has also won writers’ awards from the Arts Council and Northern Arts. Recently he was Writer in Residence at Nottingham Polytechnic, and he has been a guest artist in California and in Stuttgart. He has been a Poetry Book Society selector, and has written regularly for Poetry Review, Spectator, London Magazine, Independent on Sunday and other journals.
The Emperor of China
My father was a dry old stick,
a martyr to angina
but me, I wet my lips, and I’m
the Emperor of China.
It has green fingers, my sweet schnapps,
it sows a wild perfume
and when I look into my mind
all China is in bloom!
The swamps dry out, the peasants turn
to happy nymphs and gentle swains.
One glance from me, my wife swells up
melodiously with labour pains.
The sick take up their beds and walk.
The civil service goes to work.
All error dies. Peace takes root.
The PM budgets on his flute.
Asparagus instead of rice
is what my people eat.
The pingpong fans dance on the green
by two and two, with nimble feet.
And palace mandarins file out
to smile a meum, tuum,
pigtails flying roundabout
the Heavenly Bicycle Museum.
All the temples fill with souls,
with incense, and with prophecies;
bandits take up begging bowls;
and Jews convert, on bended knees.
Then all the bigwigs vote themselves
out of a job, for love of China.
Rule over us, you poets, rule
flat out, like Heinrich Heine!
I drink too much, the doctor says.
Much he knows, of words or wine.
Here’s a health, a Marseillaise
in mandarin. This empire’s mine!
BLEEDING HEART YARD
Price £7.95 per copy post free (£5.30 post free to Associate Members)
Cover illustration: One panel from the 5-panel Japanese print ‘The Hikone Screen’ (early Ukiyo-e School), Li Collection, Hikone, Japan
Publication: SPRING 1992 (64 pages laminated paperback)