Scammell has talent for writing in the Byron / 'Beppo' and the Burns stanzas. His poem on Philip Roth - demotic literary criticism - shows it at its least inspired, with the rhymes all over the place. But 'Muddy Waters', a light-verse reconstruction of Jane Eyre in abab quatrains, is splendid, and also criticism of a kind, both entertaining and trenchant. Equally enjoyable is 'Botany Bay', which uses the personae of a sea captain (James Eastman, real) and a sailor (invented?), taking convicts to Australia in 1787. The captain's log contains entries such as: 'Vitealld the flieet. Att 4am waid / anchor and went through the needels / the wind att SE Light Brease / 64 Cags brought off Sirous'. (Unrhymed quatrains at the beginning, rhymed ones at the end. Civilisation overtaking Australia?)
'The Northern Station' does the same sort of thing for a Russian political prisoner. But would he say, of his lawyer, 'Lury is nobody's food'? This must be part of the perennial war of publishers and printers against poets (ie 'food' = 'fool').