Tuesday, 25 January 2011

So, Walcott...

A great poet is a great poet and I have yet to read the book, an omission that will rapidly be corrected. For me it would have been fine for any one of four, which four I am not revealing.

Before the prize-giving I was giving an afternoon reading in a North London girls' school. It's all wonderfully civilised and intelligent. Some ideas about poetry, and reading relatively few poems so that there might be a chance to talk. Blissful and quite short.

Having arrived early I stopped for a drink at a pub so declaredly Irish, with flags from Irish counties everywhere, I almost felt I had stumbled into an evangelist's tent. Are you saved, brother? Come in under the shadow of this shamrock, and I will show you...


Coirí Filíochta said...

From a Parrot and Phoenix that Can Speak in Song.

Appearing at a Hampstead Girls
school more an uplifting gig,
I imagine.

Certainly beats the night
four years ago I was reciting
in a packed basement, and midway
through the reading, realizing
with quite sudden force,
enough to mention it at the time,
one felt as though I'd stumbled
into a scene out of a movie,
Fight Club.

The music of reality happening
in a sea (piddle really)
of shining Irish faces, come to
think of it, in a sense,
was the act of collective worship,
prayer in the poetry tent:
from the humblest open mics
to most sombre State Occassions,

poetry at work cutting through
hogwash and BS, connecting ears,
two eyes and humanity, a verifying
swoosh in thru a portal,
St George's white-red cross
in the performance of a gown,
horsehair clown, lay, professional
men and women of immense intelligence,
singularly interesting debaters
of one salient concern and fact,
talking the music of what happens,
our own spoken song, hoodie
holding fees, alms, exaltations,
elevating into the enobling sphere
of what spins within us, thru our
mind, out the gob and onto a page
of our life, the poetic account,
published record, Brythonic book

I, in forty two
paragraphs of supporting propaganda,

Emerge in some sliver
of an exquisite animal voice,
air abroad and speak, lout & king


au revoir.

So, Deggsie, whaddya win apart from laurels?

George S said...

Thank you for you comment. As one of the wandering minstrelsy who has perambulated from the gentle curves of the intelligent London bluestocking-remembered hills to the rough cellars and bins of fighting men spitting teeth and whisky, I am emboldened to remark on your use of the St George flag in the above lyrical conglomeration. One is acquainted with use of the red on white cross as a symbol of supreme evil in Ireland, but I perform my turns, counterturns and stands in all innocence and cannot quite grasp the incidence of said symbol in the present, fairly minimal, context.

A brief (please) footnote for the sake of relative enlightenment.

Coirí Filíochta said...

One is acquainted with the use of shamrock as a symbol of supreme love, in Britain, performing artistic turns, after-turnings and our journey toward speaking song;

'the noble brew in which is boiled
the true root of all knowledge
which bestows after duty
which is climbed after diligence
which poetic ecstasy sets in motion
which joy turns
which is revealed through sorrow;
it is lasting power
undiminishing protection'

Come sing the Cauldron of Poetry
Mr's Cauldron of Motion

counterturning, standing tall,
what innocence is it grapsed coincidentally symbolic, our's a present, fairly minimal, context coming in under the shadow
of a poetry revival tent,
as it happens,

the artistic turning, after-turning or journey, bestowing good wisdom, nobility and honor, after turning;

The Cauldron of Poetry
'bestows, is bestowed
extends, is extended
nourishes, is nourished
magnifies, is magnified
invokes, is invoked
sings, is sung
preserves, is preserved
arranges, is arranged
supports, is supported.

Good is the well of measuring
good is the dwelling of speech
good is the confluence of power
which builds up strength.

It is greater than every domain
it is better than every inheritance,
it brings one to knowledge
adventuring away from ignorance.'

...at present in the tent of cultural crosses, stored in the body of 'I', this English
interloping sidhe host..

George S said...

Aah, Coiri F, I begin to see what this might be about.

You perceive an offence!

It is, I sincerely hope, a truth universally acknowledged that a person seeking offence will find one. So now you have! It is to the Irish nation and hence to yourself.

Now to understand how the offence was sustained.

It must be because I have described a drink at an Irish pub so hung about with flags it seemed like a tent. I cannot actually see a single pejorative word in my paragraph, nor indeed any judgment of any sort, so I remain a little puzzled. Let me therefore retrace my steps.

So many flags suggests a tent, and indeed evangelists have been spoken of going around the country with tents.

Now I wonder if you might follow this trail of association. An evangelists tent suggests a religion, but since these were national flags not religious images the sight suggested to me a religion of nationhood, and while I dislike nationalism of all sorts including Hungarian and English, I did not express any dislike in the post. It was simply interesting, a sight I hadn't come across before.

You might have read Eliot so the next line in the trail of association is his line: Come in under the shadow of the red rock (The Waste Land). The pleasing coincidence of red rock / shamrock offered itself - which may perhaps be the offence you are so keenly seeking. (While I cannot see it myself, I am not incapable of seeing where a man desperate for offence might find one.)

Two further thoughts for your lyrical imagination.

Had you walked into a pub fully decked with Union Jacks or crosses of St George, you might have noted it as interesting. Especially, say, in Ireland. I don't suppose such a pub would long survive in Ireland, nor Scotland neither, and in England, unless it were a national holiday, the conspicuous display of emblems of Englishness would lead most English people to conclude that it was the local hang-out of the far right. And indeed, I would say the same of a conspicuous display of Hungarian flags. I say I would. I also say you would.

One last thought, since your comment plays on this. The offence to you and to the Irish nation might lie in the juxtaposition of the paragraph about the pub with the one preceding it, as if one were a pejorative comment on the other. (The school, by the way, was not in Hampstead). Do you think it would have been less offensive to your sensibilities if the order of paragraphs were reversed? I doubt it very much.

The two events were the unusual ones in the day so I note them. The two were closely in each other's vicinity.

Now may I suggest you take that offence and give it some fresh food. Offence is a tender plant that needs regular nourishment.

Coirí Filíochta said...

Very entertaining George, but I am not offended. I am not taking offence on behalf of the Irish nation and therefore myself, who is very much a life-long English person, born and bred, tho admittedly I did give being Irish a good go for the first four years of being here; but the truth is I am less Irish than you're Hungarian, if we crudely measure cultural identity in the amount of time spent in a place.

You have misinterpreted my shtick, mistaking it as the routine of a conservative arse who'd be upset by this inoffensive blog, just because you were in an Irish pub in London.

No, I am just experimentally responding to your post; using the space as nowt more and definitely nothing personal, one is trying to tease more from the cauldron of poetry prose-poem, nothing more; seeking the sources for a discusion on 'the root of poetry' in us as human beings.