Saturday, 31 March 2012

THICKET by Danielle Hope

I bramble forward
bees bumbling and
buzzing the gorse
wasping my legs.

Grass has been
rabbitted away
only spickle
and dry pinches remain.

In the far away
sheep stutter
I am uncontrollably lost.

Taken, with permission, from Danielle Hope's most recent collection, 'Giraffe under a Grey Sky', published by the Rockingham Press.  Danielle's website is

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


[Perhaps a little early, but this weather... ]

GET up, get up for shame, the blooming morn
Upon her wings presents the god unshorn.
       See how Aurora throws her fair
       Fresh-quilted colours through the air :
       Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see
       The dew bespangling herb and tree.
Each flower has wept and bow'd toward the east
Above an hour since : yet you not dress'd ;
       Nay ! not so much as out of bed?
       When all the birds have matins said
       And sung their thankful hymns, 'tis sin,
       Nay, profanation to keep in,
Whereas a thousand virgins on this day
Spring, sooner than the lark, to fetch in May.

Rise and put on your foliage, and be seen
To come forth, like the spring-time, fresh and green,
       And sweet as Flora.  Take no care
       For jewels for your gown or hair :
       Fear not ; the leaves will strew
       Gems in abundance upon you :
Besides, the childhood of the day has kept,
Against you come, some orient pearls unwept ;
       Come and receive them while the light
       Hangs on the dew-locks of the night :
       And Titan on the eastern hill
       Retires himself, or else stands still
Till you come forth.   Wash, dress, be brief in praying :
Few beads are best when once we go a-Maying.

Come, my Corinna, come ; and, coming, mark
How each field turns a street, each street a park
       Made green and trimm'd with trees : see how
       Devotion gives each house a bough
       Or branch : each porch, each door ere this
       An ark, a tabernacle is,
Made up of white-thorn neatly interwove ;
As if here were those cooler shades of love.
       Can such delights be in the street
       And open fields and we not see't ?
       Come, we'll abroad ; and let's obey
       The proclamation made for May :
And sin no more, as we have done, by staying ;
But, my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying.

There's not a budding boy or girl this day
But is got up, and gone to bring in May.
       A deal of youth, ere this, is come
       Back, and with white-thorn laden home.
       Some have despatch'd their cakes and cream
       Before that we have left to dream :
And some have wept, and woo'd, and plighted troth,
And chose their priest, ere we can cast off sloth :
       Many a green-gown has been given ;
       Many a kiss, both odd and even :
       Many a glance too has been sent
       From out the eye, love's firmament ;
Many a jest told of the keys betraying
This night, and locks pick'd, yet we're not a-Maying.

Come, let us go while we are in our prime ;
And take the harmless folly of the time.
       We shall grow old apace, and die
       Before we know our liberty.
       Our life is short, and our days run
       As fast away as does the sun ;
And, as a vapour or a drop of rain
Once lost, can ne'er be found again,
       So when or you or I are made
       A fable, song, or fleeting shade,
       All love, all liking, all delight
       Lies drowned with us in endless night.
Then while time serves, and we are but decaying,
Come, my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying.

Monday, 26 March 2012

WALTZ TIME by Chrys Salt

they’re doing the Alzheimer Waltz
the one two three Alzheimer Waltz
the tune is an oldie
beyond all recall
but they pivot and twirl
on a sixpence of dreams
his suit double breasted
her stockings with seams
all sense disconnected
unplugged from the wall
they’re doing the Alzheimer Waltz

waltz of forgetfulness
danced in a wilderness
caught between
somewhere and been there before
they know all the steps
but can’t think what they’re for
in the
one two three
Alzheimer Waltz

they’re doing the Alzheimer Waltz
the one two three Alzheimer Waltz
on snub slippered feet
that forget they remember
the dance tunes of spring-time
in dying December
they shimmy and swirl
light fantastic unerring
a dashing young soldier
a slip of a girl
in the
one two three
Alzheimer Waltz

waltz of forgetfulness
danced in a wilderness
caught between
somewhere and been there before
they know all the steps
but can’t think what they’re for
in the one two three Alzheimer Waltz
they’re doing The Alzheimer Waltz.
the one two three Alzheimer Waltz
and the lights on the tree
are as bright as the light
in the eyes of the dancers
who take to the floor
in the one two three
one two three
one two three
one two three
one two three Alzheimer Waltz

Chrys is an award winning writer who has performed her poetry across the UK, in Europe and the USA.  Work has appeared in many journals, magazines and anthologies and been broadcast on Radio 3 and 4. She has  published four collections, Inside Out (Pub: Autolycus/Times Publishing), Daffodils at Christmas (Pub: Galloway Poets Series),  Greedy for Mulberries: Selected Poems 1989-2007 (Pub: Markings) and Old Times (Pub: Roncadora). Her new collection Grass will be published by IDP in July and another, to coincide with the 10th Anniversary of the  Iraq war (untitled) by Roncadora in March 2013.  She is The Literature Convenor of the Dumfries and Galloway Festival and Artistic Director of the Bakehouse, a flourishing poetry venue in S W Scotland.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Talk at the BBC

Rather a jumble of interview clips, but nonetheless entertaining.  Here's a link. And here's a fairly ordinary photo of Dad and Henry Moore and A Piece.

Photograph by Stanley Kubrick

 Damned if I can remember quite how this came to be on my desktop, but what a good picture it is!  Kubrick asked my father to narrate 'Barry Lyndon' but Equity, the actors' union, had immense power in those days, and they wouldn't allow it, so (I believe) Michael Hordern did the job instead.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


Tonight it was my privilege and pleasure to attend the world premiere of Dodgeball: The Musical at University College School in London's chic boho quarter, Lower Frognal.  Frankly, the rumours had been of the carcrash/shipwreck/getmethehelloutofhere sort and I went out of a vague sense of duty and downright curiosity. As it happens the  thing was a triumph.  The songs and lyrics, written by Jamie Maier and Matt Rosen (the presiding genius of the affair) made you wonder why there hadn't been any in the original movie, and the whole was performed with gusto, zest and vim.  In fact name a washing powder or cleaning product, and this had it: Sparkle, Shine, Fairy Liquid, Gumption, Brasso...  Above all, it was very, very funny.  What more can I say other than that "Dodgeball is a sport of violence, exclusion, and degradation".  An utter hoot. Many thanks and congratulations to all involved.

More great Frognalian Dodgeball stuff here.

Monday, 19 March 2012

As Optimistic as a Welshman gets

Kingsley Jones: "I wish we could play the All Blacks next week"
Jason M.: "Do you, really?"
Kingsley Jones: "I do. I mean - Dan Carter's still injured"

Scrum V, 18/3/12

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Kelson / Keelson

I was on Friday night introduced to a new word by the poet Martyn Crucefix.  That word was 'kelson'.  Martyn got it from Walt Whitman's Song of Myself. 'Kelson' means

A line of timber placed inside a ship along the floor-timbers and parallel with the keel, to which it is bolted, so as to fasten the floor-timbers and the keel together. [OED]

Whitman uses it metaphorically, beautifully, in the phrase "a kelson of the creation is love".  For more of a context, it features in a short essay on Whitman by the American poet Robert Hass, to be found here.


There are in our existence spots of time,
That with distinct pre-eminence retain
A renovating virtue, whence–depressed
By false opinion and contentious thought,
Or aught of heavier or more deadly weight,
In trivial occupations, and the round
Of ordinary intercourse–our minds
Are nourished and invisibly repaired;
A virtue, by which pleasure is enhanced,
That penetrates, enables us to mount,
When high, more high, and lifts us up when fallen.

William Wordsworth

I wasn't fallen, but there was undoubtedly something renovating about that last 90 seconds yesterday, when a choir 70,000 strong were singing Max Boyce's 'Hymns and Arias' as Wales went through the phases towards full time and yet another Grand Slam.  The paradox of the choir is that it makes you fully yourself alive while being a small part of something else.  We were all doing the same thing and we were all being ourselves.  And that noise and that outpouring, all that pride and praise, in  90 seconds turned those on the field from mere mortals to beings little short of gods.  This was a great Grand Slam immeasurably better than 2005 and 2008, perhaps because it followed the heartbreak of the World Cup (and that wasn't about losing to France, it was about losing the opportunity to beat New Zealand in the Final).  At the end Dan Lydiate was interviewed on the pitch.  There he was on the big screen.  No-one could hear a word he was saying - not a word - but we saw him looking at us with that boyish, innocent face, looking around at the crowd, grinning and wondering, Me?  He was immense, player of the championship, but who on the Welsh team wasn't?  It was a terrific match, hard and tight and no quarter give.  Dusautoir - what a player - was everywhere, Halfpenny was nerveless (what a thing to see that long kick, and think, THAT'S how you do it!), the French defence as good as the English was against them or the Irish against Wales.  Damn nearly as good as the Welsh defence itself.  the whole thing was absolutely bloody marvellous.  It made me feel young again, just for a spot of time.

O pleasant exercise of hope and joy!
For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood
Upon our side, us who were strong in love!
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very Heaven! O times,
In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways               
Of custom, law, and statute, took at once
The attraction of a country in romance!

Two more points: The French supporters were wonderful, full of voice and song and spirit and immensely generous, with the exception of one lone idiot voice in that quiet crowd as we remembered Mervyn Davies.  And a shot of Gerald Davies, tears in his eyes, remembering, no doubt, his old friend, and their own peerless triumphs.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Mervyn Davies

Dai Morris, John Taylor, Merve the Swerve.  What a back row that was.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Stanza Bonanza Extravaganza Braganza

Should anyone be remotely interested, or about, I am one of six poets representing the magnificent Brondesbury Group stanza at the Poetry Society's Stanza Bonanza this (16th March) Friday night. Reckon I'll be on around 8.30, for a whole eight minutes.  Details here.   I hope Fiona Sampson isn't there because she told me off for being a misogynist the last time I read in her august presence (I'm not, by the way).

Friday 16th March
7:30PM - 10:00PM
Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BX