Tag Archives: poetry

A Lack of Undiscovered Places

What happened today? Ate bacon, eggs and sausage, couldn’t park outside the shop, packed parcels, sorted coins and saw customers. Not a bad day but not exactly adventurous. It’s the sort of day that used to get explorers in the mood for travel. Thanks to generations of bored explorers there are now no things left to discover, so I needed something different to do.

I thought I’d try feeding poems into on-line translators and see what happened. I used Tall Nettles by Edward Thomas as it’s quite short and he’s been dead for a hundred years so it’s out of copywright.

TALL nettles cover up, as they have done 
These many springs, the rusty harrow, the plough 
Long worn out, and the roller made of stone: 
Only the elm butt tops the nettles now. 

This corner of the farmyard I like most: 
As well as any bloom upon a flower 
I like the dust on the nettles, never lost 
Except to prove the sweetness of a shower. 

I translated it into Welsh, because it’s quite a poetic language. Then I translated it back.

TALL BALLS pay for a length, as they have done

these in many wells, the rusty oblique,

the Long digestion curve, and the roller make of stone:

Only the lamb stomach is at the top of the breathe now.

The corner of the yard I like most:

As well as any flowering on a flower

I like the dust of the flame,

never losing exclusion to experience shower mimster.

No, I couldn’t find “mimster” in the dictionary either. Next I tried Italian.

TALL nettles cover, as they did
These many springs, the rusty harrow, the plow
Long worn and stone roll:
Only the bottom of the elm is on top of the nettles.

I like this corner of the farm:
As well as any flower on a flower
I like dust on nettles, I’ve never lost
Except to prove the sweetness of a shower.

It seems to have stayed closer to the original.

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Nettles in the Woods

 

Then, of course, I had to try Xhosa. For a language that includes a lot of clicks it stayed reasonably close to the original.

RULE is issuing sticks, as it does
These many sources, the riding horse, the farmer
Long term, and stone roller:
Only elm butt elevates fat now.

This farmhouse is my favorite:
Together with any bloom of flowers
I like dust in the ministry, never lost
Besides showing the enjoyment of a couple.

I know what some of you are thinking…

TALL is cut short, as it does
The many creams, the rusty crest, wing
Long-term value and stone:
Communication is too late.

This clogfe bag would like more:
Add any flower to the flower
I love the dust with fat, and I do not lose it
In addition to trying to eat food.

Yes, it’s Welsh, Italian and Xhosa, and no, I can’t find “clogfe” in the dictionary, which is a shame.

So, apart from teaching us to ignore exercises in poetry books, what does this tell us about the nature of poetry?

Let’s be honest – nothing.

It does, however, give a possible insight into the difficult nature of international politics and the role of translators.

And it’s a good argument for keeping computers out of the hands of men with time on their hands.

 

Trivialities

The big news of the day is that I completed my poetry challenge, with 200 written in a fortnight. Very few of them are any good, but it was meant as a writing exercise rather than anything else so that doesn’t really matter. It seems to have worked, though there were days that it seemed to be working as aversion therapy rather than a writing exercise.

It’s only 14 a day when you work it out and if you stick to haiku that’s only 42 lines. it hardly seems like much of a challenge does it?

Or so I thought…

I then went to Sheffield to pick up Number Two Son.

That took more time than I thought, and gave me a few photo opportunities.

 

Butterflies, Curries and Clerihews

We went to Derbyshire today. Despite  being a Bank Holiday it wasn’t crowded and we managed to buy Julia the shoes she needed for the Maltese trip. We also bought some books and ice-cream.

We saw half a dozen Orange Tips and a pair of Brimstones. It really is looking like a good year for both species – I don’t remember seeing as many as this before.

On our return home we scurried round, changed and went for a birthday curry with my fellow shop workers and a few customers. It was a good night, and unlike last time, I was on time (just!), parked across the road and didn’t get rained on.

Yes, for those of you who may be wondering, I am now 60. That’s the “three score years” done with – just the next ten to worry about now.

I’m now going to write some poetry as part of my 200 poems in a fortnight challenge. Don’t worry, I won’t be subjecting you to my efforts, unless I write more limericks or clerihews. I seem to remember I was supposed to be writing more clerihews.

Stop All The Clocks (Part 3)

Sorry, it’s been a while since Part 1 and Part 2, which covered making my own funeral arrangements. I had meant to keep them closer together but, as you know, I’ve not been very industrious lately.

The funeral is going to be non-religious, cheap and hot, with a cardboard coffin and informal dispersal of the remains. Let “economic dignity” be the theme.

That leaves the catering and the music.

The music is a problem, as I’m very limited in my musical taste, and a lot of it has been done before. On top of that is the problem that the music isn’t really for my amusement and going through the curtains to The Crazy World of Arthur Brown may not meet with Julia’s approval. In fact I know it doesn’t as we’ve discussed it before.

Being serious for a moment, my funeral isn’t really about me. Yes, I’ve no doubt that they will talk about me, share a few memories and, if honest, agree that I did have a few imperfections. Really, though, it’s for the people who are left behind, and planning all the details seems a bit presumptuous. After all, I’m not the one who is going to have to sit through it all.

There’s a site with some favourite songs but most of them are either a bit over-used or too sad for funerals or, let’s be honest, rubbish. I’m not going to set myself up as a music critic, but I will be leaving a list of songs not to play at my funeral.

I quite like Banks of Green Willow, though I also like the theme from The Outlaw Josie Wales. Not saying anyone should play them, but there are worse songs to go out to. When the Angels Sing sounds like it should be suitable, but despite my love of the track it doesn’t really fit with my dull suburban life.

One of the things I’ve been meaning to do is write some better funeral poetry as most of it is fairly dreary. We read one of my father-in-law’s poems at his funeral – a short light verse about senior moments and that was good. One of my cousins had one of his own poems at his funeral, which was a bit more serious, but still better than anything you find by Googling funeral poems, apart from Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.

Anything that talks about meeting later or, even worse, being in another room, is definitely out. So is anything claiming I am like wind beneath your wings, or anything else. The word wind, when linked to me, does not, I confess, lead to thoughts on a higher plane. It’s meant to be a dignified occasion and I don’t want any sniggering during the eulogy.

That’s enough for now, we’ll have to cover catering in another installment as I get nervous when a post gets close to 500 words. I’m a blogger, not a novelist.

 

 

 

Out with the Old and In with the New

Unless I suddenly discover a previously unknown reserve of ambition and energy this is going to be my last post of 2017. I may squeeze another one in, but I probably won’t as I intend to make soup and sandwiches in a few minutes and spend the rest of the evening  making a serious dent in the Christmas food mountain.

As usual, I bought too much, because you don’t want to run out of food when you have guests over.

I also bought too much beer. I’m not going to be depleting the beer stocks as I’m not much of a drinker these days. I bought a selection pack of Adnams beer to test over the holiday but only tested three of them.

I can report that they tasted like beer, with a distinct beery aftertaste. The Lighthouse and Easy Up were easy to drink, as I like IPA-style beers. The Ghost Ship was a trifle heavier and sent me to sleep.

As reviews go, it’s going to win no prizes. You need vocabulary like citrus, hoppy and fruitcake aroma if you’re a beer reviewer and, quite honestly, I couldn’t say fruitcake aroma with a straight face.

In future I’m going to work to my strengths and stick to book reviews. Or I could build up my knowledge and vocabulary and train to be a chocolate reviewer too, but I fear it’s an unattainable dream. Losing weight is a priority, beer and chocolate are not.

However, on to my latest hobby horse. I nearly wrote a post entitled “Knee-deep in Bovine Excrement” after reading about a new career I’d never heard of before.

I’ve previously written about professional cuddling. I’m not going to knock it, if you can make $60 an hour cuddling someone, and can find people who will pay it, then good luck to you. I can see how it could help people, and can’t do much harm (unlike drugs) but is it really a career?

Now I’ve found and even more insubstantial “career”. It’s very tempting to study for it, but, as with beer reviewing I might find it a bit hard to keep a straight face. Check out the International Federation of Biblio-Poetry Therapy for details of what I consider a flimsy career.

Again, it may we do good, and it can’t do much harm. Compared to the cuddling there’s also less room for awkward misunderstanding. However, if you want to know more about becoming qualified you will have to pay $20 for the information pack. Not only that but if you want to convince one of the mentors you are serious about it you have to take a creative writing course. That will cost you around £400. It’s a good course – you can tell that because one of the course directors is a mentor for the International Federation of Biblio-Poetry Therapy. Er… hang on a minute…

Let’s just say that I wish I’d known about this twenty years ago.

According to one internet entry (which may or may not be true) you can charge $160 for prescribing a therapeutic reading list.

Sorry, have to go now, can’t type more as tears of laughter are obstructing my view of the keyboard…

Happy New Year to you all, see you next year.

More About Words

I’ve been looking at the list of words that should be banned from poems, as mentioned in a previous post. They have been nagging at me since I looked at the list in preparing the post. I’m now worried that I’m unacceptable as a writer because I’m using unacceptable words.

To get things straight, I’m going to carry on using the word “rectal” no matter what. The amount of times I’ve been in hospital recently I want to be very clear when discussing thermometers as the consequences of a mix up could disturb my dreams for a very long time.

The same goes for the following list, though for different reasons. Ammonite, blob, candyfloss, daffodil, destiny, fester, frond, golden, gossamer, heartbreak, Jesus, mango, milt, poised, prayer, shimmer, shriek, snot, soul, sunset, tesserae and ziggurat.

They are mostly unexceptional words and if you are writing about fossils, flowers or fish breeding you are probably going to struggle to do without them. We went to Cirencester once, where they have a great display of Roman mosaics. It would be tough to visit without being armed with the word tesserae. Same would apply if I ever visited a museum of Assyrian temples. There are just some words you can’t do without.

I daren’t use the word shards, because it’s been universally decried over the years, and anyway, if I need to discuss broken pots with an archaeologist I’m sure that potsherds, as they used to be called in my youth, will suffice.

I can’t say the same for some of the other words. Some are just dreadful words – loo and humdinger – and have no part in my vocabulary. When the world is so full of words for toilet (yes, I know it’s non-U) why bother to use one so loaded with class connotations? We have bog, jakes, ajax, thunderbox, water-closet, house of ease, WC, to name a few of te politer ones. (No thesaurus was used in the listing of loo substitutes, I just have a very unsophisticated vocabulary). As for humdinger, I really don’t have a use for it. If something is splendid I shall say so. I don’t need humdinger and I certainly don’t need awesome. Awesome isn’t actually on the list – but unless something inspires awe it’s not necessary. That, of course, is just mt biased opinion.

You then move on to archaic. over-used and complicated words – epiphany, harbinger, hark, lambent, myriad and sapient. I have used several of them in prose, but they are a bit overdone in poetry. However, if I ever need to write a poem about a hard of hearing, knowledgeable forerunner who gets licked by a lot, and I mean a lot, of intellectuals and experiences a life-changing moment, I may have to use them.

That leaves palimpsest, plethora and snedder.

I like palimpsest, though I have never used it. I don’t tend to write about re-used parchment. I have used plethora recently. As for snedder, there’s a limited number of times you can use it. Seamus Heaney, as far as I know, only used it once. That’s probably once more than most of us will use it. Unless you write poems about turnips.

 

 

 

 

A Day for Clerihews

The Clerihew, according to Wikipedia, is a four line biographical poem invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley, with a rhyme scheme of aabb. The lines are irregular, though the first line should feature the name of the person who is the subject of the poem.  Bentley believed that the name should be at the end of the line as part of the challenge lay in finding a rhyme for awkward names. It can be whimsical, absurd and inaccurate.

In other words, they aren’t very demanding in terms of technique and historical research.

Here are three that I’ve written as part of a series about British Prime Ministers. Don’t rely on them if you are revising for an exam on the subject. I’ve covered PMs in other posts, but as there have been around 57 of them I still have a way to go.

I will try a few more over Christmas as I will have (a) time and (b) an unpleasantly crotchety attitude, which are both useful for political subjects.

 

 

Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford,

was known to be fond of his orchard.

He was in power for 20 years.

And he raised gin tax, causing many tears.

 

Augustus Henry FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton

never wore a kaftan.

As a Chathamite Whig

he was a bit of a prig.

 

 

PM Stanley Baldwin

had a disagreement with the King.

A man of stately carriage,

he opposed King Edward’s marriage.