20/03/2014

Gravitas

There is something rather liberating about formal #poetry.

Not a phrase I associated with my wild and experimental youth. And, having admitted it, no doubt I have a future of gout, ear-hair and brickbats.

But fear not, dear modernist, no doubt the wind of change will blow once more and I shall swing from of this measured, throaty, Priestlyesque growl back to the sunny heights of words thrown down blankly. Indeed, this metamorphosis is in part due to a piece of advice I imparted the other day, when I advised 'developing the gut and the growl' over the head and the heart, when writing poetry.

And so to yesterday's work....

I fear that soon my local branch of Booths will be demanding an agents fee, for so much of my recent explosion has been inspired whilst perambulating to and from their emporium.

This first piece was no different.

The genesis was feedback I received for my poem Dusk. The critique, if critique it was, complained that the piece was sing song, that the meter was too regular, the poem too long, But only after complaining I had made a 'hiccup' in the opening stanza with regard to the beat and the musicality. Which when considered is an odd claim, as the opening section of a musical composition sets the theme, on which the variations are to be played, and Dusk is no different.

Musically there are issue with the poem. The absence of punctuation is somewhat of a challenge, with the tendency to see the end of the line as the delineation, the stage if you will, rather than taking the freedom offered to create for one's self.

Oh, and apparently the poem is trite. But then the art of the ordinary is often described thus by the petite-Leviathans of masturbatory avant-garde mis-interpretation.

It was a rather amusing encounter, as it was less about an exchange of ideas, and more a desperate attempt by the critic to assert ownership of all knowledge with regard to art; and advertise their great works. Indeed by way of invitation they bumped some of their poems from the bowels of the forum wasteland. I recall one was entitled along the lines of Jesus Goes To New York, which brought to mind a favorite Adrian Henri poem.

I did not take up this offer, instead I did what all vindictive artists do, I ignored this tiresome fellow - oh who can stand to be ignored! - and festered on the insult; trite indeed.

As with most annoyances, the itch was soon scratched, and the poem morphed from being an attack on critics, into something more playful....

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Mange
in drafty garrets up winding stair
tousled poems show pubic hair
wilting quivering under the glare
of the earnest poetry buff

doused in blood ennui sigh
absent of confessional sign
sly of pen no unread prize
drown'd hand waving stuff

twelve point tippy tapping type
the blank revenge hoves into sight
one eyed pirate takes the fight
to Emily Dickinson's ghost

sparse dense and bold stanzas run
strangled words throttled of fun
misquote Keats odes for a pun
on angelic hosts

some lines three some lines run as far as ten
up pops that clever girl again
always hanging round John Donne
in studied discord

alas at last the poem finished
all hope expressed lies diminished
to crabbed critics joyless critiqued
who only see the words

The rhyme pattern is the same as used in Dusk, 3 rhymes, with the fourth being blank; the difference being that these are picked up in refrain.

I'll allow you, dear reader, to spot the jokes,

And so to family time, and teatime, and games time, and bath time, and bedtime, and coffee time, and bathtime, and....

The notebook...

She comes a sparrow in the morning, smelling of his cigarettes
sips the tea of early warning, pats his hand, he's not done yet.

A poem about cancer.... I don't think so.... no fate I am not tempting you, allow me the enjoyment of my cigars.

And, again Booths is to blame for this, as it popped into my mind whilst passed the recycling bins in the car park, and glimpsing the rather squat brown house - I believe it is called the Hunting Lodge - peering down at the Lopakhins below....

No more on the hill the Middleton clan

I don't believe I wrote it down, I simply thought it, dismissed it and did my shopping.

However, whilst experimenting with  rhyming couplets, the line came back to me, grew into a single couplet, and then a second. There is something marvelous about a well balanced couplet. It has a nature cadence that matches it's logic.

Changing subject slightly, by way of explanation, some months ago I attended an interesting talk about, and walk around, Ilkley cemetery. There was I, among the semi-retired and ladies in hats, being pleasantly entertained about the financing of the project, the design, it's place within the intended model community, the children's isolation hospital, the worthy folks, the not so worthy folk, the maintenance, the curious opening ceremony; though as you might guess, it was the oddity of the last Lord of the Manor being re-intered - I believe they had originally been laid to rest in the family vault - separately from his wife, for reasons of religious demarcation, that intrigued me.

Thus having built the couplets, and created a structure for a wider poem, by adding scenes to create the journey around the graveyard, I broke the lines to make four line verses.

And before I run into trouble with the local historical society, I admit that I took some liberties with regard to GBS and Garibaldi, that it was not she who waved the flag, but her father, and she went onto be a leading Sufferagette before going over the to Conservatives on the Irish question; and I could not recall which poet was a regular visitor for tea with the leading lights of the education movement, and GBS scanned. And no, I am not saying the place has a litter problem, the volunteers do a wonderful job maintaining the place, and reclaiming the graves of those without kin to care for their final resting place.

So without further ado....

Musing In Ilkley Cemetery
No more on the hill the Middleton clan,
     now resting apart in municipal plot.
He to the left with the Romans and Catholics,
     she to the right among Protestant stock.

He passes his time amongst sisters and Irish,
     she spends her days with the cream of the mill.
And were they to rise, and meet on the pathway,
     they could look through the Ash to the pile on the hill.

Walking once more, hands crossed behind me,
     the A plots, the B plots and C's tucked behind,
reading the stones, somber and solid,
     eaten by moss and losing their shine.

Now here's a baby resting with mother,
     daffodils, and brambles over their head.
Laying untended, their family departed,
     'gone safe to the Lord', the legend there says.

A squirrel picks crisps from littered green packet,
      vinegar, bites and claws at its tongue.
Skirting the line of war fallen heroes
      into conformists I gladly move on.

Past teachers and doctors, inventors and shepherds,
     he was a pal of George Bernard Shaw,
her flag she raised with Garibaldi,
     his soul he saved building homes for the poor.

At last, I complete my ambling circuit,
     back once again beside Middleton sun.
Surely despite religious contention,
     husband and wife might lay here as one.


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