William Bedford

William Bedford – Featured Poet

 

bedfordBELTON PARK
i.m. Walter Bedford

In a somer seson, whan softe was the sonne,*
the chauffeur’s son showed me the attics,
long empty corridors and servants’ rooms,
net curtains blowing at cobwebbed windows.

‘They might find us,’ is what I wanted to say,
imagining the crack of autumn guns.
‘They’re away,’ he scoffed, reading my mind:
the family, the servants, priests on the run.

In the library, a visitor worked at his books:
a priestly recorder in a pennyfeather mood,
a yellow waistcoat and hot complexion,
crouched at his words like a smith at the forge.**

In the grounds, under oak and hornbeam,
my father hit the ball to the boundary,
shouting ‘Yes!’ as he raced for the wickets,
still running when the umpire called for tea.

In a somer seson, whan softe was the sonne,
all that was begun ended. Our brief goodbye
and a wave, then the plane taking off
like a cricketer running for the boundary.

*William Langland, The Vision of Piers Plowman.
**A friend of the Brownlow family, Evelyn Waugh was a frequent visitor to Belton House, where he liked to work in the library.

GUY FAWKES
(Humber Estuary: 1955)

The last thing our Guy Fawkes will see
is the sea coming to rescue him.
But the sea won’t reach. The rockets
and Catherine wheels will reach,

but the tide is too low to dowse a fire.
Shrivelled to penny eyes and shells for teeth,
his ashes will drift to the estuary,
his wide mouth leak the oils and tars

of Sheffield’s industrial froth.
Push-netters shrimping the shallows
might have helped if they had hearts,
but they’re ranters and levellers to a man.

Everybody loves a bonfire.
Everybody loves to see Guy Fawkes burned.
The crowds will pay sixpence for fresh crab
and shrimps in brown paper bags.

The last thing our Guy Fawkes will see
is the cocklers and inshore fishermen,
warm in tarred oilskins and sou’westers,
pretending they are boys again,

shouting for the death of the straw man,
the fire of belief in their eyes,
the fists of the future in their hands,
a dance of screaming crowds in the sea.

William Bedford is a prize-winning poet and novelist. Red Squirrel Press published his The Fen Dancing in 2014. His poem ‘The Journey’ won First Prize in the 2014 London Magazine International Poetry Competition. Another poem ‘Then’ won First Prize in the 2014 Roundel Poetry Competition. In the autumn of 2015, Red Squirrel Press published The Bread Horse, a new collection of poems.