Dying Scarlet by Tim BowlingDying Scarlet by Tim Bowling

Dying Scarlet

byTim Bowling

Paperback | January 1, 1997

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In a letter to his brothers in 1818, John Keats remarked on a curious expression in vogue among his friends: "they call drinking deep dying scarlet." The poems in this collection, inspired by Keats' misspelling of "dyeing," explore the ways in which we drink deep from life, searching for beauty and passion despite a melancholy awareness of our own mortality.

Poised between praise and lamentation, Dying Scarlet moves from the experiences of the poet's grandfather in the trenches of World War One, to the fate of an obscure English poet in the Elizabethan age, to the present-day journey of a sockeye salmon; from the Russia of Anna Akhmatova to the Manitoba of Margaret Laurence. Autumnal and contemplative, these are poems of love, of memory, of home, of dying - and, most profoundly, of life.
Tim Bowling has published numerous poetry collections, including Low Water Slack; Dying Scarlet (winner of the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry); Darkness and Silence (winner of the Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry); The Witness Ghost and The Memory Orchard (both nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award);...
Title:Dying ScarletFormat:PaperbackDimensions:80 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.28 inPublished:January 1, 1997Publisher:Nightwood EditionsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:088971164x

ISBN - 13:9780889711648

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Read from the Book

Open SeasonIn the first autumn frost of 1963, my brothers coasted their punt to stillness in some marsh reeds at the mouth of the Fraser River, and shot a pair of rainbows from the sky. The mantle piece of my parents' home would display those stuffed greens and blues for years; I'd later steal the glassy eyes to replace my aggies lost at school. But that cold morning, I wasn't around, when those quick mallards fell, when my brothers woke in the same sparse room and spoke together almost gently of the coming kill. I wasn't born. No myth but theirs will line this poem, and no deaths either: they're so young they can't foresee the rift that time will tear between them. Maybe I know where they were the night the two most famous shots of the year brought down an empire's arcing prince, but they don't know. Last month? Last week? Maybe they were shooting pool at Dutchie's parlour or drinking beer in the parking lot outside the rink. Maybe they had bagged a ring-necked beauty in the pumpkin fields behind some barn, or hung a spring-net at the cannery. Hell, maybe they pressed their mouths against our mother's swollen belly and told me secrets no one else could tell. They don't remember anything about those days, and if you can't remember how you loved your brother in the breaking dawn, why would you care about the famous dead, or the fact they died at all? My brothers were close as those two birds that flew above the marsh; they're not close now. Myth-making isn't in their blood, or mine, and it's not my business to wonder where they stood the moment that their friendship died. Maybe they whispered something to me. Maybe they said, "Little brother, you'll only know us when we're changed. But we were once another way." Maybe they just laughed and said "he packs a punch." I don't know. I might as well still be sleeping in the womb with rainbow bruises on my temples, while my brothers pass their frozen blue into my nephews' eyes. Love Poem, My Back to the FraserWhale jaw, jack-spring spine, rock cod gill, scallop under the skin of my hand; these are the bones I'm burying now. Tomcat skull, sparrow wing, spaniel paw, full moon behind my bluest gaze; I'm planting them all. No animal returns to gnaw its gnawed limb left in a trap; I've thirty years to dig the deep six for, and hard shoulderblades to gunnysack. Darling, carry the spade for me, chant my years without you down; I want the sunlight on a new foundation, my old bricks in the wormsweet ground. Cattle hock, heron claw, muskrat rib, mast I hang my breathing from; I'll part the grass and roll the die; I'll build new castanets: here's a fresh gentility: as the hummingbird twines its tiny nest of spiderweb and moss, so I build my hope and sleep from the marrow of your kiss.

From Our Editors

In the time of John Keats, 'dying scarlet' meant to drink deep from life, beauty, and passion. Dying Scarlet is the second collection of poetry from Tim Bowling. Playing on themes such as his grandfather's time in the trenches of WWI, or the journey of a salmon, Bowling writes of memory and home and of dying. Dying Scarlet is a rich and mature collection from an exciting Canadian poet.