In this remarkably assured, elegant first collection, James Sheard takes on the subject of the individual in European history, suspecting that the End of History has been announced a little early. The environment inhabited by his poetry is pervaded by ideologies and upheavals, both old and new; the speakers of his poems brag, explain, confess, resign, but are always human in their concerns. What emerges is a series of poems like skeletal mechanisms, set ticking at those moments when his characters connect, however briefly or tangentially, with the forces that surround them. Sheard aims for epic scale in small spaces. Where the shorter poems seem to touch and withdraw, the long title poem "Scattering Eva" sets out to explore. The story of the narrator returning the ashes of a survivor of the Hamburg firestorm raids to that city is told in a filmic and fragmentary narrative in which Sheard probes the fractures of gender, generation, nationality and complicity. Densely worked and startlingly original, the poems in "Scattering Eva" announce the arrival of a new poet of maturity and great power.