Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
  2. Poetry & Stories
23 October 2016updated 29 Jul 2021 4:40pm

Poem: “When the Americans came”

“Do you have vampires around here?”

By William bedford

*/

When the Americans came,
they didn’t take to our gardens:
the apple orchard smelling of wild garlic,
foxgloves growing among the runner beans.

“Do you have vampires around here?”
a visitor from Carolina asked me.
It was a shambles, Wilfred knew that
nodding wisely as though apologising

for the ill manners of King George,
the clematis purple in the thatched roofing.
But come the softe sonne,
there are oxlips in Fry’s woods,

forget-me-nots in the shallow stream,
lettuce and spring onions for a salad.
It’s certain that fine women eat
A crazy salad with their meat
*

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

I tried to tell them. But they weren’t women,
and didn’t care to listen to a boy.
They preferred the red rosehips
we used for making wine.

Content from our partners
How automation can help telecoms companies unlock their growth potential
The pandemic has had a scarring effect on loneliness, but we can do better
Feel confident gifting tech to your children this Christmas

Danced outside the village church
round the maypole Jack Parnham made.
Now they’re gone,
the wild garlic has returned.

* W B Yeats, “A Prayer for My Daughter”

William Bedford is a novelist, children’s author and poet. His eighth collection of verse, The Bread Horse, is published by Red Squirrel Press.

This article appears in the 19 Oct 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Brothers in blood