Writing Poetry

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  • Michael Shepherd (4/11/2005 5:48:00 AM) Post reply

    I'd go with that, Sherrie. Nice how a little inspection of an apparently insignificant ocasional poem can yield respect for poet and poetry.
    Not inappropriate that our most wreckage-beset horse race, the Grand National, occurred on the same day - as the Queen neatly observed. Andrew Motion stayed the course, which could have brought down lesser jockeys!

  • Michael Shepherd (4/10/2005 4:07:00 PM) Post reply

    PH, you make me realise that Motion is graciously astute: the Prince is a real garden buff, whose own garden at Highgrove does just that classic English thing, of moving from garden as adjunct to formal house, on to 'wild' garden planned with great thought to natural habitat. That's very English.
    And curiously, it was the poet Alexander Pope, friend of the Prince of Wales of his day (and whose grotto I visited the other week) who largely initiated the English garden with its classical motifs and worked it into his poetry (designing his grotto so that he could be partially in the open air while writing his poetry...) Fitting!

  • Michael Shepherd (4/10/2005 3:47:00 PM) Post reply

    Motion lives in a town house with a small garden; I think it's rather attractive that on receiving a commission he takes it outside to the garden rather than hunches over the desk with a ciggie - imagine Auden! Then as you neatly point out, takes it to wilder nature.
    I'd take issue with your sense of 'proper'; an English writer would probably know that it comes from the French where it (appropriately) means 'appropriately'to the situation. A truism perhaps, but nature will indeed run its course - as it already has in the Diana chapter.

    At least we were spared

    'Hail flagrant Camellia, cynosure of Princely garden verdant,
    Blooming with heart's-ease and forget-me-not upon this Royal day! '....

    OK that enough for today, kiddos..

  • Poetry Hound (4/10/2005 8:40:00 AM) Post reply

    Wow, Shep, that’s much deeper than I had gone with the poem. I suppose you can really run with the fairy tale aspect of any royal wedding, but you can’t go down that path if you’re the Poet Laureate, since it would be seen as trivializing the wedding.

    I was focused on the poem’s use of nature. I saw two forms of nature being presented. The first is the “square of garden-ground, ” which I took to be the traditional English Garden, an ordered and formalized place that is essentially a tamed form of nature. No wolves or scandals there. The second is the wilder part of nature where there is “winter wreckage” in the stream and where it is unkempt and dangerous. The first form of nature is a place for rejuvenation where you can “dim the roar of arguments.” But it’s not real. The second, less controllable form of nature is where we lead our lives. I thought the poet was trying to control that too. He supposes the rain will clear things up and set things on their “proper” course. But “proper” is a distinctly British word and is not really appropriate to nature in the wild, where rain can just as easily form a torrent.

  • long gone (4/10/2005 8:21:00 AM) Post reply

    It leaves the reader with that well-worn truism that the duration of time mends fences.

  • long gone (4/10/2005 8:20:00 AM) Post reply

    Motion's ending recalled Wordworth's 'A Slumber Did Her Spirit Seal' where she 'rolled around in earth's diurnal course'...this is a rather downbeat poem to celebrate the union of two people isn't it? Why mention scandal and 'winter-wreckage'? I suppose Motion has been fairly bold here...I wouldn't say this was in any way 'sucking up'...rather, a realistic, balanced poem that some Brits can look at and not deem cringeworthy. Fair play to Motion on this particular piece.

  • Michael Shepherd (4/10/2005 7:30:00 AM) Post reply

    PS: the 'green fuse in the flower' is a reference to Dylan Thomas' celebrated poem...

  • Michael Shepherd (4/10/2005 7:21:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    As a Rather Ancient Brit, perhaps I should try to answer PH's question about Andrew Motion's poem on the Royal Wedding. But it's difficult to judge it without some sense of context. And I haven't studied this. When the wedding and the required poem from the Poet Laureate was announced, I was glad it wasn't my job, even at the official stipend of (I think - Linda?) £2000 per annum...
    A quick superficial reaction might be: a neat job of sitting on the garden fence, in Spring - avoiding the pitfalls of a factual, psychological, political, or brown-nose job, as Private Eye might put it. Motion instead goes out into the garden and appeals, subtly, to Nature, which the prince loves anyway - it's Spring, a new beginning, let nature take its course, just as a stream in Spring clears away the old twigs and blockages of the previous autumn. Neat? Positive, optimistic, upbeat. A troll-free 9 or 10 on poemhunter, I'd say?

    Of course, for any other poet but the Poet Laureate, there is a fabulous classic fairy-story to be spun. The great framework of fairy story, as, say, a Hindu would interpret it, involves recognising that the 'Christening' in fairy-tale is effectively the birth of the new soul; the 'fairies' are the 'fates' who bring the tendencies, the fruits of actions in a former life; so there are good and bad 'fates' present. The Wicked Witch brings an Aristotelian major weakness of (former) personality which will bring the major crisis of the new life; while the Fairy Godmother, presiding over all (or the Lilac Fairy in the Perrault-based ballet of Sleeping Beauty) , brings the one gift of divine grace and love which will ultimately triumph.
    So you can see that there's a terrific classic fairy story to be spun from this saga of Fairy Prince as protagonist, and those good and bad christening gifts (self-pity? timidity? love of nature?)
    And - no thanks...let's stop there...

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  • Linda Preston (4/10/2005 6:16:00 AM) Post reply

    Hmmm.....that's actually quite deep for a royal wedding. As I said I'm a fan of Mr. Motions - I would say yes it grows on you. He wrote a good anti-war poem despite him being the Poet Laureate - so good for him.

  • Poetry Hound (4/10/2005 6:06:00 AM) Post reply

    This poem was written by Britain's Poet Laureate Andrew Motion on the occasion of the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. What do you think of it (apart from what you think of Charles and Camilla) ?

    Spring Wedding

    I took your news outdoors, and strolled a while
    In silence on my square of garden-ground
    Where I could dim the roar of arguments,
    Ignore the scandal-flywheel whirring round,
    And hear instead the green fuse in the flower
    Ignite, the breeze stretch out a shadow-hand
    To ruffle blossom on its sticking points,
    The blackbirds sing, and singing take their stand.
    I took your news outdoors, and found the Spring
    Had honored all its promises to start
    Disclosing how the principles of earth
    Can make a common purpose with the heart.
    The heart which slips and sidles like a stream
    Weighed down by winter-wreckage near its source -
    But given time, and come the clearing rain,
    Breaks loose to revel in its proper course.

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