Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Post rodent... a recantation and a bouquet

God bless Bob Diamond, God bless his bonuses,
May each banker be rewarded according to his merit.
God bless the deserving and curse those who curse them
By name of rodent or weasel, skunk, polecat or ferret.

God bless their bonuses, those necessary morsels,
God grant them true value according to His Charity,
God bless the wealth-makers and curse those who curse them
Or call for humility, temperance or parity.

God curse the moaners who clearly are envious,
God curse the jobless, those lacking in liquidity,
God curse the wage slaves, the ranting and rudderless,
God curse their creditless cretinous stupidity.

God bless Bob Diamond, God bless his bonuses
May each banker be rewarded according to his merit.
God bless the deserving and curse those who curse them
By name of rodent or weasel, skunk, polecat or ferret.


By way of contrast, watch this! It's part of a marvellous documentary on Wallace Stevens and some of his poems, beautifully read. It can't be embedded but it can be watched.


Edward Wilson said...

I love this, George, what a wonderful piece of satire. Can I put it on Facebook - attributed to yourself of course?

Best wishes,

Kathleen Jones said...

A wonderful link to the Wallace Stevens. But couldn't help thinking what a distance there is between now and a world where someone could write 'The poet's subject is HIS sense of the world'. The world of banking bonuses, however, remains strictly masculine. There are many women who would wish it different, but it's not a club I'd wish to join!

George S said...

It's a problem knowing what to do with 'his' in this context, Kathleen. Stevens is a man, not to mention a man of his time, so when he thinks 'poet' he naturally thinks of himself. What could he say? 'He or she'? 'S/he'? 'Her or him?' 'They'? Would any poem work like that? He might have said 'she' but then the reader would have assumed he meant a particular female poet.

It continues with Charles Tomlinson's 'The artist lies / for the improvement of truth. Believe him.' (A Meditation on John Constable). There again it is a male poet reflecting on a male artist and taking a philosophical point from him.

Perhaps it's for women poets to stick to 'she' if they want. I don't think there are too many poems in which the contemporary poet meditates on the nature of poetry itself. Such meditations tend to appear at times of change - such as the period of early Modernism, when Stevens was writing.

As for the bankers, there are plenty of rich businesswomen probably as hard as nails and certainly as hard as any man, but not at the top of banks as far as I know. Maybe banks as institutions of financial speculation require a a heavy dose of gambling instinct rather than management skill. Gambling is supposed to be a male trait, in so far as one can trust these things.

Hungarian has no gendered pronouns: it makes not the blindest bit of difference to long established gender habits as far as I can see. I think England is a long way ahead on that.

George S said...

Edward, of course. I think of it as a piece of Free Lit, like graffiti. It's already on my FB page, but by all means spread it. It's nice to think it might spread a little.

Gwilym Williams said...

The poet's subject is his sense of the world. Stevens is a man. I'm a man. George is a man. We are hes. QED.
If I was a woman (the poetess) my subject wpuld be her sense of the world. Each to her/his own. That's freedom for ya.
Perhaps we need a new word. Maybe hir or hes would do the trick. On the other hand we can just get on with it. Life, it is.
I'm amazed that Kathleen picked up on that faux pas. More important I thought was the poetry and what all that means. I looked at 13 blackbirds. He says a man and a woman are one. Same with a man and a woman and a blackbird. Or presumably a blackbird a woman and a man. Or any variant.
I like Stevens enough though I don't pretend to understand the half of it. He's the first real modern American poet.
- ps George
would you prefer I use your thug in a corner leather jacket image for my rogues gallery? Bitte say yes.

George S said...

Thug flatters me, Gwilym. Let me be a thug. It's all my mother ever wanted for me. Thug is just fine.

I don't understand a lot of Stevens, but it comes wonderfully to life when said aloud. I love the bits I do understand so am willing trust him on the bits I don't. Not ad inf, you understand, but in that area just about detectable at the edges of peripheral vision.

Gendering pronouns is a tough one. I think we are at the latter end of the fiddling with language period. Not sure there is much more mileage to be got out of it for anyone, except occasionally wrong-footing an opponent who is not quite au fait with the latest revision. But then if someone is pulling that trick a lot then they don't have too many other tricks in the bag, so one need not spend a long time refuting or apologising. One carries on with life as best one can.