I know a modern architect who really loves his jazz.
The hypocrite ! Still clinging to his Monk and Duke and Chas !
The music of the moment is the only sort allowed –
Hip-hop, pop and drum & bass – played endlessly and loud.
For any newly-written jazz is just a quaint pastiche,
So councillors and plutocrats must keep it on a leash.
Keep it stark and minimal, without such syncopation –
For finely-crafted solos are just needless decoration.
And as for old recordings: don’t restore them, but adapt:
Saxophones now synthesized, and melodies now rapped.
Drum machines inserted, so’s to tell the new from old;
Gut ’em out and fit ’em up – it’s brutal, brash and bold !
We’ll wipe the records clean to make the space for noises new,
For songs are just machines for lis’ning to.
Fine scallops and oysters
For townlands and cloisters,
And cockles and mussels – alive, sirs, alive !
Come find one and pluck it
From out of my bucket –
It’s yours for a penny – or fourpence for five.
…………Fresh from the beaches of fair Dublin Bay, …………Fresh from the sands where they thrive, oh ! …………Fresh from the beaches, and fresh ev’ry day – …………Cockles and mussels alive, alive-oh !
There’s no need to scrimp it
With whelk or with limpet –
I’ll sell you no snails, sir – I’m clams through and through.
Don’t ask me for sprinkles
Of peries or winkles –
Why settle for one shell, when you can have two !
…………Fresh from the wash of the fair Irish Sea, …………Plucked-out as soon they arrive, oh ! …………Fresh from the sand to the boat to the quay – …………Cockles and mussels alive, alive-oh !
There’s some who dig beaches
For lugworms and leaches,
But they make a slimy and wrigglesome catch.
And scampi and crab, sir,
Will scamper and jab, sir –
But mine are like eggs that are waiting to hatch !
…………Fresh from where seagulls love combing the sand, …………Fresh from where cormorants dive, oh ! …………Fresh from Portmarnock and Dollymount Strand – …………Cockles and mussels alive, alive-oh !
So what do you say, sir,
To venus or razor ?
Just tease-out my beauties with jack-knife or steam.
They may hold a pearl, sir,
A feast for your girl, sir,
You’ll soon warm her cockles with cockles in cream !
…………Fresh from the beaches of fair Dublin Bay, …………Fresh for your ladies and wives, oh ! …………Fresh-in from Skerries and Claremont and Bray – …………Cockles and mussels alive, alive-oh !
Born, bred and boarded in England, by chance,
Yet closer to Calais than Canterb’ry town –
Where the Channel keeps nibbling the chalky-white Downs,
And keeps her from cycling to France.
Trapped by La Manche
From Dunkirk to Rennes –
But still she stays staunch: La Douvresienne !
Douze ans is she, in the town of her birth,
And watched by the Castle that keeps her kept here.
But the bright lights of Calais are teasingly near –
Yet somehow they’re out past the end of the earth.
Trapped by the rosbifs
Like Jeanne d’Arc back when –
This unwilling hostage: La Douvresienne !
She lives by the gateway, she lives by the quay,
And watches the French as they come off the ferries
In Deux-Chevaux Citroëns and bob-cuts and berets,
With bœuf bourguignon and bagettes bearing brie.
She mimics their movement
Agen and agen,
With steady improvement: La Douvresienne !
When the weather is right and the signal is clear,
She re-tunes her black-and-white into their station
And watches in awe at the sights of a nation,
And wishes she understood all she can hear.
She mimics their voices,
Both women and men.
She makes the right noises: La Douvresienne !
But their language is tricky to lodge in her head All accents and commas and genders to test her,
And sometimes it’s only a shrug or a gesture –
It’s just like their spelling, there’s so much unsaid.
She’s learning at school
With the rest of Class 10.
She’s sounding so cool
Is La Douvressienne !
She fancies herself as a Mademoiselle,
But family hist’ry declares her a Miss
But what do they know of Gainsbourg or Matisse ?
It’s more than genetics that makes her a belle.
It’s more than a pose
For this proud Madeleine:
She’s no English Rose,
But La Douvresienne !
Buddleia ! Buddleia ! Ev’rywhere, buddleia !
Growing in gardens too small to contain it.
Growing in wasteland and making it muddier –
Railways and quarries won’t even restrain it.
And then in July, see it all turn to violet
As thousands of flowers bring stamen and style. Soon, we think, soon comes each painted-up pilot
To flitter and dazzle and make it worthwhile.
But here in the suburbs, with bushes amassing,
There’s plenty of purple, but no Blues in sight.
Just when did we last see a butterfly passing,
Aside from the moths and the odd Cabbage White ?
Here in the suburbs, these shrubs ramble well,
Yet we won’t see a Camberwell Beauty near Peckham,
Nor ravenous inchworms descending to wreck ’em !
So no Painted Lady, no Marbled and Tortoiseshell,
Won’t see an Argus, a Skipper or Admiral.
Monarchs and Emperors too have set sail,
So where the Fritillary ? Wherefore the Swallowtale ?
Coppers and Brimstones have melted away,
Hairstreaks and Ringlets receded to grey,
The Gatekeeper’s keyless,
The Speckle Wood’s treeless,
And where are the Peacocks we avidly spy ?
Comma and Map and Wall,
Where do their larvae crawl ?
Where do their mothers all gravidly fly ?
Small Heath and Meadow Brown,
Not to be seen in town –
Naught but irruptions of davidii !
And soon it’s September, and blooming is ending,
And then they’re just weeds that need far too much tending.
Buddleia ! Buddleia ! Ev’rywhere, buddleia !
I tell you, the purple invasion is pending…