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23-Jan-2020 14:01

The people stare out at you, like images in old photographs, sometimes smiling, sometimes puzzled, but like the lost children in one of the poems, they will "watch you for the rest of your life, wondering why you had left them." A superb and life-affirming collection.''This haunting, lived-in collection, steeped in the earth, resurrects – through ancestral and personal, often sensuous, memories – an almost bygone rural England.The vivid, detailed vignettes are charged with the transcendent./ or out of doors like cattle."' Evoking his world of 'fog and witchcraft', 'apple-scrumping wars' and 'love in open fields' , the poet self-consciously assumes, in a way that is reminiscent of that fine Irish poet John Montague, his role of annalist and custodian of his family's history.'Nobody likes to forget things', says Bedford, quoting his father; while in 'Ghosts', a poem dedicated the memory of his grandfather John Fantom Bedford, the poet's responsibility to serve his ancestral I like the sound of Fantom I like the steady fall of fine snow.

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It is a beautifully sustained narrative which crackles with the buzz and burr of dialect: 'children skreeking to the beck'; 'horses shrouded by a gadder of flies'; 'winter's crizzling grind.' Dated 'Kirkby Green: 1914', the poem is a vivid portrayal of a lost way of life set against the backdrop of impending catastrophe.

Always authentic, always poignant, these are poems in which the images are as bright and numinous as "the gold lettering on the carrier cart …