Archive for August, 2012

Friday, August 31st, 2012


For looking behind the mountain the only solution

is to ride the mule until you get there. I will build you a shelter

on the plateau where none before have trodden

and there, as men and women toil in the fields below, we will dream

of a sea-going ship to take us to our island,

our imagined island. Cows will be munching Russian cabbages.

Thursday, August 30th, 2012


Do you ask me what Lionardo would have said had any one told him of this picture that ‘all the thoughts and experience of the world had etched and moulded therein that which they had of power to refine and make expressive the outward form, the animalism of Greece, the lust of Rome, the reverie of the Middle Age with its spiritual ambition and imaginative loves, the return of the Pagan world, the sins of the Borgias?’  He would probably have answered that he had contemplated none of these things, but had concerned himself simply with certain arrangements of lines and masses, and with new and curious colour-harmonies of blue and green.  And it is for this very reason that the criticism which I have quoted is criticism of the highest kind.  It treats the work of art simply as a starting-point for a new creation.  It does not confine itself—let us at least suppose so for the moment—to discovering the real intention of the artist and accepting that as final.  And in this it is right, for the meaning of any beautiful created thing is, at least, as much in the soul of him who looks at it, as it was in his soul who wrought it.  Nay, it is rather the beholder who lends to the beautiful thing its myriad meanings, and makes it marvellous for us, and sets it in some new relation to the age, so that it becomes a vital portion of our lives, and a symbol of what we pray for, or perhaps of what, having prayed for, we fear that we may receive.

Oscar Wilde, from The Critic as Artist (1891)


Wednesday, August 29th, 2012


Shafted from behind as if by a plane,

turned upside down as if in shame, what wanders

through the corridors of our night in

gowns of dream-woven gossamer, one wonders. Bees

buzzing into dreams have no place, and cabbage vendors

live on the other side of town, not here.

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012


Once when diving down through the layers

of earth into our past, your explorer hit his head

on a piece of rock that had been waiting for him

more than a million million years, or so it said on

the label. Ouch, he said, that really hurt!

Monday, August 27th, 2012


And when it’s like this


you wouldn’t change it

for all the tea in China,

would you?


But when it’s like this

(THIS!) you …

Sunday, August 26th, 2012


And again there are no words.
Words exist that can, used by a poet, achieve a dim monochrome of the body’s love, but beyond that they fail clumsily.



 John Wyndham, from The Chrysalids (1955)

Saturday, August 25th, 2012


Mabel, the woman who claimed to be a mother to me,

explained that living in a  crouching position

was not good for the back, and I should “straighten up”.

Friday, August 24th, 2012


Bees continued to press home their advantage

in the well-springs of darkness, and if any girls

took it into their heads to force their breasts into

my face I screamed for Daddy. Rescue helicopters

were ever at hand in those post-war years.

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012


Lumped asleep like a polar bear, my salad days

long behind me, all that remains possible now

is lamentation, and deciding what flavour pizza to order.

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012


The question of what is, and what is not, a fit subject for a poem is one that has exercised minds through the ages. One recalls being at a party (this was some years ago) and the host’s good lady wife, a doctor, I believe, was berating a guest for saying that “anything” was fit to be the subject of a poem. She insisted that the only good reason for a poem to exist was that it added beauty to the world. The argument became a little heated, largely because the guest in question had had a little too much to drink and had lost most of his usual inhibitions – later he was discovered dancing in a state of partial undress in a neighbouring garden. I might add that none of those people are any longer my friends.

Leo Jipp, from Up A Tree: The  Story of My Life, (Inane Books, 1997)