You know, the public used to love
A crafted verse, a witty rhyme,
A fresh, bizarre or telling thought –
But that was all a diff’rent time.
These days, the public hardly notice,
’Cept for those they hear in songs –
Elsewhere in there gen’ral lives,
There’s nowhere where a verse belongs.
But, you know, I blame the poets,
Writing verse that’s too obscure –
Too aloof or crass or trendy,
Self-obsessed and immature.
No-one wants to please the masses,
No-one wants to catch their mood –
I tell you, light verse is the highest
Form of poetry pursued.
Ah, but listen to me whinging –
Who am I, so untoward ?
After all, I try to please you,
And my verse is still ignored !
There’s no shame in prose,
In stories and sayings,
In thoughts and bon-mots,
And pledges and prayings.
But let’s not pretend
They are what they are not:
It’s prose that we’ve penned,
It ain’t poems one jot !
Be proud of our prose
For the prose that it is,
Cos ev’ryone knows
That good prose can still fizz !
And sure, we know sometimes
That prose is poetic,
But without the rhymes
Then our poems won’t click;
And ev’ryone knows
When there’s prose at the roots,
For poetic prose
Is still prose to its boots.
A verse without rhyme
Is a song without music;
But keeps its own time,
Which will helps, if we choose it –
For a song without music
Can still be quite stellar:
The beat lets us use it
To sing a capella;
The song is still driven
On metrical feet.
But a verse without rhythm’s
A song with no beat.
Yet a verse without rhythm
Can still be good prose,
And still can be striven for
When we compose.
So stop all this posing
Of poetic throes;
There’s no shame in prosing,
So let prose be prose !
Yeats ? I’m better than him, any day !
Shakespeare ? Kipling ? Take them away !
Wordsworth ain’t worth a word, nor a letter –
Betjeman, ha ! Bet you meant to be better.
Sure, they have moments – as do I, if you only knew –
But it’s only their moments forever retold and adored.
I could write beauty, should it suit me – and it does !, and I do !
But it’s always their words get remembered, and my words ignored.
To tell the truth, I’d always hoped I could have loved them all instead,
But then they never wrote the lines I wished and needed to be said,
And so it fell to me to please myself with what I couldn’t find,
And that is why it’s only I who sparks my picky, prickly mind.
Oh, they all have moments, and I cling to these for dear love –
That just for once they get me – when they get me right and get me good !
I need these, only ten times more so – scattered crumbs are not enough –
Why must I hack my own damn verses just to feel I’m understood ?
Perhaps I over-dramatise a little, make too much a fuss,
But surely we’ve all felt at times abandoned, like we’ve missed the bus –
They make such lofty claims of how they speak for us, these sacred arts,
Yet often fail so mis’rably to touch us in our hungry hearts.
Sure they have their moments – as do I ! Ah, but you’ll never know.
I wouldn’t care, if only they could steal my thoughts and set them free.
I know I have some beauty, somewhere – Ah, forget it, let it go…
If only I could love them as you love them – but it ain’t to be.
Yeats ? I’m better, when we’re both said and done !
At least, to my audience of one.
I’ve written these poems for years now and years,
Yet still lurks a lurking, a fearsome of fears,
That dreads their rejection by judgement of peers:
My learning has only begun.
And years out from now, will they gather a sigh
For the bark-of-the-dogg’rel I doggedly try ?
And a laugh at the talent that’s nowhere to spy ?
Must still my apprenticeship run ?
I reckon I’m ready to face that exam,
My verse is rehearsed and is well worth a damn,
So let me be truly the Poet I am !
Oh, say juvenilia’s done !
Ev’ry morning, half past nine,
And Pixie Prentiss writes a sonnet –
Seven minutes, and it’s done,
With notebook, coffee and a bun.
Thirty seconds for a line
Is all she’ll ever spend on it –
Surely nothing good can come
From scribbled scans of tum-de-tum ?
Yet I, who labours hard and long
To craft my wrought and weighty song
Must always envy Pixie’s fleeting fun.
She takes her pen and daily mines
Her fourteen brisk and punctual lines,
While my new verse has scarcely yet begun.
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome, all –
We’ll shortly be commencing:
I promise we shall soon enthral
Those senses we’re suspensing.
So let me introduce, my friends,
This ev’ning’s main recital –
Where joy and anguish each contends,
And lovers crave requital.
An epic true, a ballad grand
As stanza follows stanza,
Heroic does this potent hand
Bring forth extravaganza:
The finest Truth on life and death
That verse has ever captured.
So hush the lights and stop the breath,
And brace up to be raptured.