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This poem is taken from PN Review 237, Volume 44 Number 1, September - October 2017.

Mansions in the Sky
The Rise and Fall of Branwell Brontë
Simon Armitage
William, It Was Really Nothing

The young pretender has cocked his hat
towards Westmorland. Picture the great bard,
mid-breakfast, letter in hand,
eyes on stalks and jaw hanging loose,
a loaded knife-blade of Dorothy’s damson preserve
stalled between lidded porcelain jam-pot and toast,
blood-scabs of red sealing wax crumbed
on the cloud-white tablecloth.

(Thinks: if Paul Pogba cost eighty-nine million plus,
what am I worth?). Except

what glittered like charmed finches over Haworth Church
drifts as rain across Scafell Pike. No reply:
the parsonage clock patrols the night-shift
in jailors’ boots. Outside the moors play dead.

Self Portrait

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