...is where I am back from today. Tomorrow it will be London. The weeks continue peripatetic. Next week it's Ireland for a night. Peru is postponed. Or perhaps Newcastle was Peru? John Cleveland thought so:
England's a perfect world, has Indies too;
Correct your maps, Newcastle is Peru!
Cleveland 'the last of the Metaphysicals' was the most popular poet of his age (far more so than Milton, for example) and no fewer than 25 editions appeared between 1647 and 1700. His reputation declined, however, after Dryden's criticism that the poet was apt to deliver 'common thoughts in abstruse words'. His often dazzling conceits and comparisons were termed 'Clevelandism'.... Source.It was Tony Harrison who picked up the line to make a poem in his Eagle Press pamphlet of 1969. I bought the 1974 Northern House edition or was given it in the early 80s.
...Cleveland seems to have been a destitute wanderer between 1646 and 1655, dependant on Royalist sympathisers for support. His actual whereabouts, however, are a mystery. It is not impossible that he spent time in the North East; the poem 'News from Newcastle' (first printed in 1651) is ascribed to him. It certainly has more of Clevelandism than other poems so ascribed, and whoever wrote it was a poet of more than usual accomplishment. He clearly also knew the Tyne very well. The beginning is arresting - and Newcastle is pronounced with the short 'a' that was the norm of polite speech until the early 19th century.
...Shadow girders faced with sun
shimmer like heaped bullion.
Commerce and contraceptives glide
and circle on the turning tide...
Newcastle is in fact a handsome city. The weekend runs from Tuesday to Sunday there, they tell me.
On TV in Newcastle hotel I watch Chilean miners emerge from a narrow capsule just wide enough and long enough to hold a man. Like being born again, out of the earth.