Saturday, 22 October 2011

The Poetry of Margery Clute (8)


If I could but sail the bluebell sea
And ride the myriad tinkling waves
'Twould be the acme of this world's delight!
Unsullied blue, untainted by the factory smoke,
Blue as the sky that first succumbs to city belch,
A letter, writ upon the forest floor
For all to read who dare! Could I but sing
The song that's written there – sweeter still than poetry:
A Holy Writ that fades with the shortening of the days.
I must content myself to walk among
It's mute, mysterious words that touch
The very essence of my Being.

Margery Clute (1824-76)

If you missed the first installment, which provided some background information regarding Margery Clute's poetry, you can read it here.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Birds

It's been a while since I wrote a poem not under a nom de plume. I put that right this week. This, for what it's worth, is it:

The Birds

can you hear the birds?
they're somewhere over there

it's so dark between the lights
they never turn them off
it sounds as if
there must be trees

we can only dream
as we walk

keep walking he said
either the wire goes on forever or
this is the place I started out

play your violin
I'll listen I said
play a tune I know
tell me what it is

they tell me the birds
are singing the national anthem only
these days my ears
don't work properly and it just sounds
like twittering to me

play your violin I say
anything is better
than the birds

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Would two heads be better than one?

This is not what I set out to blog about today. I started to write a post, read it back - and then decided to delete it. One of the things I find particularly satisfying about writing a blog is the way it challenges you to examine what you think.

We all have those experiences when it's as if a light has come on in our heads. We've followed a train of thought and suddenly we have an idea or see something in a different light. It's easy to feel smug when this happens, in the uneditted part of our minds. Blogging is guaranteed to bring you down to earth in these situations. Nine times out of ten I find, if I set these things down they appear, when I read them back, to be simplistic, self-satisfied or just plain wrong. Blogging can be driven by vanity - it can also be a chastening source of humility.

I almost wrote another post the other day, and then -for the reasons above- decided not to. I'd found myself thinking how much better it would be if we all had two heads. I'm not just talking about appearances here (although it is the case that it would great if one could be a hippy and a skinhead at the same time). I'm sure as a species we'd be far more reflective if we had to discuss everything we did with a second self. And we'd never be lonely.

There are downsides. It would be good to be more reflective, but it could work the other way: my two heads could egg each other on to ever more despicable acts. Some aspects of modern life would be made more difficult: would I share a mobile phone with myself? If my other head was into "I'm on the train" kind of conversations, it could prove very annoying. As for tastes in music, or the chattery noise that comes out of walkman headphones, it doesn't bear thinking about. Garlic, snoring... I could go on.

Anyway, from the ridiculous to the sublime. If my other head was into this, I wouldn't mind at all. This is what happened when John Cage met up with James Joyce and Robert Wyatt...

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The Poetry of Margery Clute (7)

What is the World?

What is the world? Is there a scheme or plan
To that in which we sit and pass the time,
Or think, or act, or listen for the chime?
Has it been just so since time began?
Why do the stars shine in the sky?
Why are people born? Why do they die?

Such is the poet's lot, I deem! - To fret
On things sane men endeavour to forget.

Margery Clute (1824-76) 


Untouchable, invisible,
A breathless wind that blows
From whence it came
To who knows where!
The clock, it's weather-vane -
Tick, tock, tick, tock.
Time passes, pitiless,
Without a care!

Would that I might sail against the stream
Recapturing the youthful gleam;
But who can resist Time's ruthless flow?
If any can, please let me know!

Margery Clute (1824-76)

If you missed the first installment, which provided some background information regarding Margery Clute's poetry, you can read it here.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

News from Nowhere... and the The Bell...

Just had one of those weeks that's dominated by work. I'd been hoping to intersperse my posts on the timeless verse of Margery Clute with a few other posts, but few opportunities have arisen.

It began with a busy weekend last weekend - the band did a gig at The Victoria Theatre, Halifax. Alan Burnett, of the News From Nowhere blog came along with his partner, which was great. He was kind enough to take a photo - and give us a plug on his blog.

Ever since then it's been work. And, personally, I find the best way to get through a heavy schedule is to relax in a positively cat-like way whenever the odd opportunity to do so arises. A spare couple of hours on Monday night was spent with half a bottle of wine, a few green olives and Dr Who. Other rare moments of peace have been spent reading Iris Murdoch's The Bell. This proved to be unputdownable. It's left me with the feeling Murdoch novels often leave me with: that I was about to be shown the meaning of life, the universe and everything, but never quite was - which, in a novel, is the way it should be (and, of course, has to be). This is accentuated in The Bell by the brooding presence of the Benedictine Abbey, the inner life of which is largely obscured from the other characters in the book and the reader. One is led to consider that perhaps, within the novel, meaning lies within it: since what happens there remains largely unsaid, it's impossible to rule this possibility out. And the nuns who live there are largely portrayed as people of wisdom and integrity - unlike the religious characters on the outside who rarely, in the book, attain these qualities and certainly not both at once!

I picked the book up in an Oxfam shop together with another Murdoch novel I haven't read, The Unicorn. That can serve as next week's dose of escapism.

Oh, and I've been listening to this. Treated myself to a CD of Messiaen's Catalogue d'Oiseaux. This is an excerpt from Le Merle  Bleu: The Rock Thrush. Messiaen's pieces set out to evoke the songs and habitats of French birds. I've discovered that it's fascinating to listen to the music in a place where you can watch birds in the wild. I came to the fanciful conclusion that if birds could play the piano (not that they need to), this is the sort of music they'd make:

The Poetry of Margery Clute (6)


It always makes me frown
To see the Sun go Down -
I always feel depressed
As it sinks into the West.
Does it know no other way
To end the day?

Margery Clute (1824-76)

If you missed the first installment, which provided some background information regarding Margery Clute's poetry, you can read it here.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The Poetry of Margery Clute (5)

If you missed the first installment, which provided some important background information regarding Margery Clute's poetry, you can read it here.

Night Thoughts

The stars shine down upon the dingy streets -
Diamond studs upon a sable dome;
Frost glistens on the cobble stones
And makes me feel sad to be at home.

To think I sleep beneath so grand a sight,
Blind as a stone, oblivious to it all!
Or lie awake, considering our earthly plight,
Staring blankly at the mind's dark wall,

Thinking sad thoughts, such as a horse might think
Hauling it's load along the dingy bank
From Liverpool to Leeds, when I might dance
Alone, uncorsetted, beneath the Moon!

Margery Clute (1824-76)