The Blasphemer’s Banquet : Part the First (excerpt)


The Blasphemer’s Banquet is a film poem, it’s here excerpted from the Bloodaxe edition of Shadow of Hiroshima and other film poems, 1995.

“When I see bigots wanting Rushdie dead
burning a book I’m sure they’ve never read,
marble bust or not, Voltaire’s got stored
a much more critical book in his old head.

I too heard bigots rant, rave and revile
books of mine, which after a short while
were canonised as classics, which is why
you always see Voltaire with this wry smile.

A boy in Abbeville for having sung
a mildly blasphemous ballad had his tongue
ripped from it’s roots, and on his blazing body
my Philosophical Dictionary was flung”.

In one part of the poem, Tony Harrison (who I very briefly met) reproduces the burnt book out of air –

There is another Harrison Poem on Poethead and it is linked to the Guardian open source platform A Cold Coming :

I also recommend V, The Collected Tony Harrison, and my personal favourite, The Mysteries (most of the above and early Harrison is via Faber and Faber)


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