Error message

  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available
  • 7digital error - no preview available

Purkis

Purkis

The red king lay in the black grove:
The red blood dribbled on moss and beech-mast.

With reversed horseshoes, Tyrrel has gone
Across the ford, scuds on the tossing channel.

Call the birds to their dinner. 'Not I,' said the hoarse crow.
'Not I,' whistled the red kite
'Will peck from their sockets those glazing eyes.'

Who will give him to his grave? 'Not I,' said the beetle
'Will shift one gram of ground under his corpse,
Nor plant in his putrid flank my progeny.'

Robin, red robin, will you in charity
Strew red Will with the fallen leaves?

'I cover the bodies of Christian men:
He lies unhouseled in the wilderness,
The desolation that his father made.'

Purkis came by in his charcoal-cart:
'He should lie in Winchester. I will tug him there -
Canons and courtiers perhaps will tip me,
A shilling or two for the charcoal-burner.'

Purkis trundled through the town gates,
And 'Coals!' he cried, 'coals, coals, coals,
Coals, charcoal, dry sticks for the burning!'


from Collected Poems (Carcanet, 1988), copyright © John Heath-Stubbs 1988, used by permission of the author.

Recordings

John Heath-Stubbs Reading from his poems

1Mozart

2Purkis

3A Crow in Bayswater

4Christus Natus Est

5The Frog and the Nightingale

6Wishes for the Months

7The Lady’s Complaint

8Girl with Marionettes

9Plato and the Waters of the Flood

10When Sappho Loved

11The Timeless Nightingale

12The Poet of Bray

13Inscription for a Scented Garden for the Blind

14The Tree-Creeper

15The Carrion Crow

16The Stonechat

17The Blackcap

18Ibycus

19Song of the Death-Watch Beetle

20Flea

21Inscription for a Sundial

22A Jellicle Cat

23The Mulberry Tree

24The Ghost of Gruesome Towers

25A Ballad of the Piltdown Man

26At the Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea

27A Ballad of Trafalgar Square

28Sonnet

29Ockham’s Razor

30A Christmas Rose

Books & cds by John Heath-Stubbs