For an old poet friend…

A couple of off topic posts tonight. The first is about an old friend who spent years struggling for recognition as a poet. Now at 78 he has stopped struggling and the recognition is slowly coming. This site picked him up recently and has a fascinating page of quotes from his poetry. If you can’t be bothered wading through his longer stuff, it gives a flavour of the man as much as the poet.

Many of his poems are difficult on the eye, and sometimes the ear. But there are an untold number of gems, like this one, written just after he left teaching:

the sheer stupidity of the sea

going on and on mounting the land
and falling away again
gathering to itself a compendium
of its own tricks
not thinking
that any one cares which way the tides
alter the look of the beach
but just doing it like an animal
because it has to – having nothing else
it could reasonably do and remain

it’s that stupidity
in all its sheerness that people
(unable to admit in themselves)
find to worship in water – and that’s why
they can’t get it out of their dreams
and (near it) regress into children
(the only unashamed animal-bit
they have left in themselves)
classrooms should be down by the sea

I’ve posted one of my favorite verses here before, but there’s no harm repeating it. It’s from Imperfect Eden, a long homage to his father. This section is set on a long hot summer’s day in 1930’s Southampton:

trams had this kind of catholic conviction
the end ordained their waywardness was blessed
if tramways claimed per se this benediction
who cared if errant trams at times seemed pissed
religions prosper from the hedonist
who shags the world by day and prays at night
those drunken trams still brim me with delight