Monday, September 19, 2016

Something Thoughtful

Nicholas Reid reflects in essay form on general matters and ideas related to literature, history, popular culture and the arts, or just life in general. You are free to agree or disagree with him.

 John Keats is dead, so take me to the library
Cheerfully, and with aesthetic purpose,
Some fine day, when real people
Are living various lives I will not judge -
So that I can read what he actually wrote
And understand why some things last
More than two centuries
And some don’t.
Coleridge is dead and Auden too
Let me judge them for what they wrote
Not have some childish tantie
Where I go all porno ‘cos I need attention
And want to say everything before my time
Is irrelevant.
Shelley and Wordsworth, thank you
For teaching me that all things must pass
And knowing not just to bandy names about
For effect, claiming knowledge which I do not have.
Byron, Whitman, yes you were guys who liked
Immediate sensational effect, and so do I
(Don’t we all?), but while my cat being run over
Or my dog crushed by a garage door
Might have more effect on me than any poem,
Just the way sexual experience does,
Thanks for the wisdom that this in itself is not poetry.
Poetry is heart and brain and skilful words.
(Above all skilful words).
We all have strong emotions, but
Strong emotions themselves are not poetry.
In the landscape of our childhood, shrieking and
Stamping our feet are a good way to let it out,
But thank you for making me more grown-up.
Wallace Stevens is dead too, and
Bill Manhire is not getting any younger
And neither is Hera Lindsay Bird
For none of us are. Pause. Breathe.
Have a lie-down if you must
And look at the landscape again in twenty years time.

Coda [by Flanders and Swann]
What gets the prizes and wins awards?
Pee Po Belly Bum Drawers….
At Oxford and Cambridge, and Yale and all,
and at Berkley, they really have a ball,
'cos the higher the brow, the harder they fall,
For Belly Belly Bum Bum Belly Belly Bum Bum Pee Po Belly Belly Bum Bum, Pee Po Belly Bum Drawers


  1. I enjoyed this poem more than Bird's, because it is more thoughtful. You will find that, in her piece, the various names she mentions are meaningless and haphazard. You could substitute them with the names of female poets, and the poem would be no more or less substantial. The poem's appeal comes from its crude juxtaposition of these 'respected' names with sexual acts and coarse language. Like Lady Chatterley's Lover, I imagine Bird's poetry would be rather pedestrian sans sex. But perhaps I am a misogynist.

    Ryan Wood

  2. Thanks for your comment Ryan. I did toy with substituting names like Sappho and Aphra Benn and Laetitia Hemans and Emily Dickinson and the great Marianne Moore (who's a favourite of mine).... but then I thought, why bother? The critical point would be the same.