Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Looking back with badly prescribed specs

Everyone should visit the poetic relay race between Plutarch and Lucy. Having read Lucy’s latest contribution (Click here) I left some comments and she responded: I can't really seem to get away from nature imagery… it's just too integral to myself and my experience to lose it.

I am a townie so why not an urban version of Lucy’s piece? Alas this isn’t it. It’s defective (ugly in fact) and I worked on it so long I entered the metrical graveyard of diminishing returns. I think I know why it fails and rectification would require redrafting. If it were prose I would do just that but verse is the lesser aspiration. I publish it as I might add a new wreck to a marine chart.

The two pictures show the Bradford post office in front of the cathedral and Swan Arcade, scene of the city fathers’ greatest act of vandalism.
Bradford. The fifties
The post office is going, Gran, they need,
To clear the view to the cathedral tower.
But that can’t be, she shook her stubborn head,
I saw it built, for me it’s just pre-war.

Which war? Then dainty Swan Arcade went too,
And textiles started failing to the east.
They scrubbed the city’s face as if to woo
All those who look on blackness with distaste.

This later irony was lost on me,
I’d turned my back on urban soot-stained stone,
On mills like keeps, on old formality,
On pride in status lost, mere pride alone.

And now only a word or phrase survives:
Brown Muff, a store - how times were innocent!
Lumb Lane - an ancient memo that revives
Dislike for ugly names and sentiment.

Grotesquerie? Let’s go to Buttershaw,
Or Wyke, or Shelf, or Clough, or Heckmondwike,
This wearying pig-headed northern flaw:
“Why dream up titles you’re inclined to like?”

But honesty compels and I must try,
To re-examine that unfavoured place
In callow youth I tended not to sigh
Nor look for subtleties in time and space

St George’s Hall, at first a cinema,
Then concert hall, a new enlightenment,
And Woods for records heard in camera,
In booths we looked for mutual assent.

From steep-tracked Darley Street a door gave way
To dust on dust, the central library:
Brass steps on shelves to reach the higher prey,
The books new-bound to add longevity

Now honesty has grabbed me by the wrist
And dragged me to the place of my rebirth,
In dull Hall Ings my schooldays were dismissed
And I at last unearthed a crumb of worth