Image result for john clare the poet

“O for a draught of vintage…”

All art is either parody or homage,

And the best, a mixture.

You cannot expect me to put the paint on that way,

Although that style has become a fixture.

You can’t expect me to go down this hall,

Saying hello to every hat upon the wall.

There’s Wordsworth’s; his frequent use of enjambment

Was mocked by John Clare—no, that wasn’t the younger poet’s intent;

Rivals of the same era will sometimes seem

Completely alike; in time, the same dream

Descends on both; he praised her,

But by doing so, his verse steered towards the small

And trivial. If only you had read it to the end!

You would have seen your own sleeve repaired. You lend

Me a part of myself—but I always take

It as mine forever. Well, that’s how it works, for God’s sake.

The economy can tax and buy and re-sell

To the poor, and this is why they never do well.

Everything is made for the sake

Of the advantaged. The rest is hidden in the lake.

There’s nothing original. We re-combine

The letters, the hues, the ideas. Look at this line:

This line (not that one, this one) is going to tell

A heavenly tale, using blotches found in hell.

Or Hull. When Lake Poets took a long hike

Along German hills, exquisite poetry was found.

Clare mocking Wordsworth is almost like

Larkin, who replenished with a certain sound

An irritated Englishness, too quick

To cry for most, but bitching certainly did the trick.

You can see him, right there, and think

Anything you want about him. Go have a drink.


1 Comment

  1. Anonymous said,

    June 14, 2019 at 7:03 pm


    for Thomas Graves

    folded down and no one’s now

    the poets oh of no renown to you.

    why do we bury them again…

    vow to vow and each to keep

    I mourn their prolonged winter sleep

    their springtime tread

    upon the pages that I read

    only decades ago.

    so decreed the powers that be

    the assumed, so assuming literati

    that they should become no reverie even

    in season or out, jeered by those with clout.

    even our Shakespeare conscripted

    to serve, the propagandist’s lack of verve.

    still, not for me their soul’s lost foam and the long retreat.

    sad vigil I will keep with Whitman, Poe

    Dickinson, the best to know.

    Keats and Shelley bright as beams

    upon the unresting, forlorn seas

    no more, the ships of gold.

    oh find their valentines again

    I whispered to a modern wind, an age

    that stole what e’er they knew and trashed it

    academic room to room.

    think that you shall find again

    in purple ink, such hearts to win

    you know it isn’t true.

    languid at the cafes, parlez vous

    anything but shame, riotous laughter

    upon their banished names.


    mary angela douglas june 14, 2019

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