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Bella with White Collar by William Bedford

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BELLA WITH WHITE COLLAR*
‘Dressed all in white or all in black, she has long been
haunting my paintings, the great central image of my art.’ Chagall.

All I had to do was open my window
and in streamed the blueness of the sky,
love and flowers for my beloved Bella.

We were alone at last in the country:
the pig in the sty and the horse in the field,
the moon climbing high behind the trees.

Married we could fly to our canvas heaven:
waltzing wild flowers round a warm kitchen.
The Birthday became Bella with White Collar,

and she is wilder than the harvest bells,
the clouds and the threshing trees,
the man and child I walk into my paintings.

I am The Poet Reclining in my field,
though I refused to call my paintings poetry.
I refused to call my paintings anything.

‘How could you?’ the hostile crowd demanded.
Bread and circuses said Comrade Lenin.
But it was the acrobats who caught my eye.

And the flowers. When my fiddler returned,
he was still The Green Violinist.
Nothing could be the same when the colours died.

.

*1917

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William Bedford’s poetry, short stories and essays have appeared in over a hundred magazines worldwide. His Collecting Bottle Tops: Selected Poetry 1960-2008 was published in 2009. His selected short stories and non-fiction, None of the Cadillacs Was Pink, was also published in 2009. He was on the Editorial Board of Poetry Salzburg Review from 2007 to 2016, and was Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Oxford Brookes University from 2008 to 2011.

Recent collections include The Fen Dancing and The Bread Horse.

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1 thought on “Bella with White Collar by William Bedford”

  1. What a warm and loving poem of praise! And I enjoyed finding out more about the woman who inspired many of his paintings – which I will think of now when I see them. Thank you 🙂

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