Saturday, March 7, 2009
Ever recorded an album? Me either. It was called A Friend of Mine, and its songs opened and shut with an eponymous four-word refrain.
Eh? Let me demonstrate – albeit in varicose verse.
But, first, a warning. Man is weak; to self-indulgence he often succumbs. On those (not so) rare occasions when I falter, Maud, my first mate – princely Queen Jane – invokes an acronym. NSP, she says – no self-pity. Instantly, I am a better man.
Sometimes, though, the incantation fails. Why? Because it is not purification I seek, but self-pity itself – YSP.
So indulge me, Maud, as my song plays out.
A friend of mine
has a brain like a cell and
a heart like twin chambers bound.
He has need fattened by feeding,
hunger that eats its host;
Who ever is free, asks he,
from the tightening tangle,
the snarl within.
He was made for this,
that friend of mine.
Phew! Free verse like that takes its toll – if free indeed it be. For Tsetse Eliot would deem it not. ‘No verse is free,’ he declared, ‘for the man who wants to do a good job.’
Alas, Maud, this wantful man is weak.
Speaking of poetry, I once made the mistake of trying to define it.
‘Its lines (I began) are broken and scarce; its size and shape lend it intensity, and its effect owes as much to style as to substance. Reading a poem is more a sensual than sensible experience; in short, it is a way of feeling words.’
Happily, Britannica does better: ‘Poetry is the way it is because it looks that way, and it looks that way because it sounds that way and vice versa.’
Dizziness compels me to close.