A Letter to My Aunt
A Letter To My Aunt Discussing The Correct Approach To Modern
To you, my aunt, who would explore
The literary Chankley Bore,
The paths are hard, for you are not
A literary Hottentot
But just a kind and cultured dame
Who knows not Eliot (to her shame).
Fie on you, aunt, that you should see
No genius in David G.,
No elemental form and sound
In T.S.E. and Ezra Pound.
Fie on you, aunt! I'll show you how
To elevate your middle brow,
And how to scale and see the sights
From modernist Parnassian heights.
First buy a hat, no Paris model
But one the Swiss wear when they yodel,
A bowler thing with one or two
Feathers to conceal the view;
And then in sandals walk the street
(All modern painters use their feet
For painting, on their canvas strips,
Their wives or mothers, minus hips).
Perhaps it would be best if you
Created something very new,
A dirty novel done in Erse
Or written backwards in Welsh verse,
Or paintings on the backs of vests,
Or Sanskrit psalms on lepers' chests.
But if this proved imposs-i-ble
Perhaps it would be just as well,
For you could then write what you please,
And modern verse is done with ease.
Do not forget that 'limpet' rhymes
With 'strumpet' in these troubled times,
And commas are the worst of crimes;
Few understand the works of Cummings,
And few James Joyce's mental slummings,
And few young Auden's coded chatter;
But then it is the few that matter.
Never be lucid, never state,
If you would be regarded great,
The simplest thought or sentiment,
(For thought, we know, is decadent);
Never omit such vital words
As belly, genitals and -----,
For these are things that play a part
(And what a part) in all good art.
Remember this: each rose is wormy,
And every lovely woman's germy;
Remember this: that love depends
On how the Gallic letter bends;
Remember, too, that life is hell
And even heaven has a smell
Of putrefying angels who
Make deadly whoopee in the blue.
These things remembered, what can stop
A poet going to the top?
A final word: before you start
The convulsions of your art,
Remove your brains, take out your heart;
Minus these curses, you can be
A genius like David G.
Take courage, aunt, and send your stuff
To Geoffrey Grigson with my luff,
And may I yet live to admire
How well your poems light the fire.
Phyl posted a lovely picture of her hill (we dubbed it 'Benny'), and there were so many smashing comments too, so I've posted this blog as a tribute.
Let me tell you a story of a girl named Phyl,
who tobogganed very fast down 'Benny' hill.
In her roasting-tin sled, she flew down the slope
giving challengers really just no hope.
She saw 'Barney the butter', chewing on some hay,
and butted him hard, to move him out the way.
A few loop-the-loops, a zig-zag or three,
then wiggled her bum to swerve round a tree.
Our fearless lady wearing 'Biggles' goggles,
with red silken trousers, with gold coloured toggles,
came to a halt at her kitchen door,
and kicked off her boots on her nice clean floor.
Harry, my lad, I hope you've made the tea,
and bacon buttees for my friends and me.
Mary and others who had all came along,
gave a cup and a buttee to Nick and the 'Dong'.
I'll get my coat....heh heh heh.
One Friday afternoon my English teacher, Mr Marsh, told me to stay behind after school, "Aye, aye", I thought, "Six of the best coming up." He told me to sit opposite to him at his huge desk and asked me what was troubling me. "William Wordswoth was one of our finest poets and you didn't pay one seconds attention, why", he asked? "Boring Sir", I replied,
He opened a book, "I want you to listen while I recite this poem, because I think it might interest you, it's a bit daft, but I'd like your opinion of it."
I stifled a yawn and thought, "I'd better listen to the boring old sod", because I wanted to go and meet my mates, but surprisingly, his words sort of captured me, I remember thinking, "This is a bit of alright."
He finished reciting the poem (The Dong With A Luminous Nose by Edward Lear) and I said to him, "Is there no more Sir, that was a laugh?"
He smiled, handed me his book and said, "Take it home with you, and over the week-end, I want you to read it yourself and learn it."
The next week, I returned his book and he grew the widest smile when I recited 'my' poem for him in it's entirity. After that I took a keen interest in Mr Marsh's lessons.
Fast forward 20 years.
I was having a pint with some mates when one of the lads spotted one of our old teachers, so we all went over and said hello. He told us that another teacher of ours, Mr Marsh, was very ill in hospital, and that he had no family, so, a couple of us nipped along to the hospital.
We found the ward, and there, lying so still and looking up at the ceiling was Mr Marsh. We approached the bed and said, "Hello Mr Marsh", but he never answered and kept staring upwards.
I don't know what made me do it, but I started reciting 'The Dong With A Luminous Nose', and 'Sir's' eyes flickered. He turned his head and whispered, "How kind, that is my favourite poem, thank you."
In memory of Mr Marsh, a poem by Edward Lear.
When awful darkness
and silence reign
Then, through the vast and gloomy dark,
Slowly it wanders,--pauses,--creeeps,--
Long years ago
Happily, happily passed those days!
But when the sun was low in the West,
Playing a pipe with silvery squeaks,
And now each night, and all night long,
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on--on--and out of sight.
Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away ... O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done
Well here it is and with no mistakes this time!! Chrystie
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
in such a jocund company:
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
what wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.
Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,
That brings our friends up from the underworld,
Sad as the last which reddens over one
That sinks with all we love below the verge;
So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.
Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.
Dear as remembered kisses after death,
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned
On lips that are for others; deep as love,
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
O Death in Life, the days that are no more.
A Dead Rose
O Rose! who dares to name thee?
No longer roseate now, nor soft, nor sweet;
But pale, and hard, and dry, as stubble-wheat,---
Kept seven years in a drawer---thy titles shame thee.
The breeze that used to blow thee
Between the hedgerow thorns, and take away
An odour up the lane to last all day,---
If breathing now,---unsweetened would forego thee.
The sun that used to smite thee,
And mix his glory in thy gorgeous urn,
Till beam appeared to bloom, and flower to burn,---
If shining now,---with not a hue would light thee.
The dew that used to wet thee,
And, white first, grow incarnadined, because
It lay upon thee where the crimson was,---
If dropping now,---would darken where it met thee.
The fly that lit upon thee,
To stretch the tendrils of its tiny feet,
Along thy leaf's pure edges, after heat,---
If lighting now,---would coldly overrun thee.
The bee that once did suck thee,
And build thy perfumed ambers up his hive,
And swoon in thee for joy, till scarce alive,---
If passing now,---would blindly overlook thee.
The heart doth recognise thee,
Alone, alone! The heart doth smell thee sweet,
Doth view thee fair, doth judge thee most complete,---
Though seeing now those changes that disguise thee.
Yes, and the heart doth owe thee
More love, dead rose! than to such roses bold
As Julia wears at dances, smiling cold!---
Lie still upon this heart---which breaks below thee!
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Born: 6 March, 1806
Yes, honestly it's true, she pressed Control & Enter & disappeared from view.
It devoured her completely, the thought just makes me squirm,
She must have caught a virus or been eaten by a worm.
I've searched through the recycle bin & files of every kind,
I've even used the Internet, but nothing did I find
In desperation I asked Jeeves my searches to refine,
The reply from him was negative, not a thing was found Online.
So if inside your Inbox, my Grandma you should see,
Please Copy, Scan & Paste & send her back to me!
I'm too old to have a granny but now I'm worrying that I might disappear into this Ipad!
Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
To love and laugh and give!
This bright new year is given me
To live each day with zest . . .
To daily grow and try to be
My highest and my best!
I have the opportunity
Once more to right some wrongs,
To pray for peace, to plant a tree,
And sing more joyful songs!”
- William Arthur Ward
Hope kindle and rebound you.
May your Hurts turn to Healing;
Your Heart embrace Feeling.
May Wounds become Wisdom;
Every Kindness a Prism.
May Laughter infect you;
Your Passion resurrect you.
May Goodness inspire
your Deepest Desires.
Through all that you Reach For,
May your arms Never Tire.”
- D. Simone
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering 'it will be happier'...”
― Alfred Tennyson