Poem about poetry

Larkin hated poems about poetry but I can’t seem to get away from them. I think that’s probably because I get really immersed in the process (drafting, writing, reading out loud etc) and I am infinitely curious about the way other people do it. Anyway, what follows was kick-started by a Geoffrey Hill essay  on John Ransom Crowe. What I hope I’ve done is put together a slightly tongue-in-cheek riposte to those who take poetry too seriously.

Nights in the pub

Man walks into a bar,

says:

(to no-one in particular)

“I’m looking for the monad”.

The two bar staff exchange glances

and shuffle their sweating feet.

The older one says:

“We haven’t had a monad in here

since a week last Tuesday”.

The man says: (to them)

“You two don’t even know what a monad is”.

At which the younger one gets all indignant,

pours himself a drink and leans across the bar:

“The monad is Eliot’s still and moving centre,

the compression of feeling, the true object of all poetry.”

He’s strangely impressed and orders a drink- double malt with ice.

Night after night he drags himself down there

to the bar on top of the sea,

night after night he drinks himself drunk,

notebook by his side

as the waves drench the rocks.

Then, one fateful night,

they greet him and say:

“The air’s thick with it tonight-

can’t you smell it?”

And he could, the air was warmer

and carried the scent of burning orchards.

All he had to do was wait.

Then,  at ten past ten, it all started to begin.

The plaintive cries,

the women in their thirties,

the long, long sighs,

the silent sobbing inside,

the older men,

the glazed euphoria.

10 or 12 all at once,

he sat fixed to the  bar

he took notes

(as you would),

he sweated,

he cried,

capturing every last angle that he could.

By 11 it was all over

and he went home,

pissed,

to sleep.

The next morning with coffee and a smoke

he opened his notes only to find

that he couldn’t read a fucking word.

All squiggles and blotches

as if the truth demon had erased

the revelation in the night.

He tried to make things out,

he really did,

but the only words that were left were:

heartbreak;

light;

and

coruscation.

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3 responses to “Poem about poetry

  1. I like, it made me smile, even if I don’t read enough poetry to get the references. It might be about writing poems, but it also spoke to me about people watching and clarity of thought.

    • Not getting the references is the point, use of the term monad in this context is almost completely misplaced. In very few heads is it the object of all poetry. I’m pleased that it made you smile- I enjoyed writing it even though the middle bit needs expanding

  2. That’s excellent John!! Really enjoyed it
    Harry

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