June 5th, 2009
|09:56 am - What a load of Laureates|
The poetry event yesterday went really well. I'm certain the pub would give us the venue again, and people were asking when the next one would be. They don't even normally open that room on a weekday, and it was standing room only by 8pm. The a-capella singing was very good, and that's very accessible to the audience, but I felt the poetry went well too. You know what I feel - that people will enjoy poetry, given the chance.
I had to go on immediately following the singers - a tough slot. I read my Ted Hughes poem, as it is the only one I have written that has 'poet laureate' in it.
ETA But I've decided to show a John Betjeman poem instead (thanks happytune for the link to the words). Fred read this, and very well indeed. I always hear Betjeman with a sort of thumpy-thumpy unsubtle rhythm in my head, but Fred read it with a lovely nuance, and an impersonation of Wilde's voice where appropriate. Impressive.
The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel
By John Betjeman
He sipped at a weak hock and seltzer
As he gazed at the London skies
Through the Nottingham lace of the curtains
Or was it his bees-winged eyes?
To the right and before him Pont Street
Did tower in her new built red,
As hard as the morning gaslight
That shone on his unmade bed,
“I want some more hock in my seltzer,
And Robbie, please give me your hand—
Is this the end or beginning?
How can I understand?
“So you’ve brought me the latest Yellow Book:
And Buchan has got in it now:
Approval of what is approved of
Is as false as a well-kept vow.
“More hock, Robbie—where is the seltzer?
Dear boy, pull again at the bell!
They are all little better than cretins,
Though this is the Cadogan Hotel.
“One astrakhan coat is at Willis’s—
Another one’s at the Savoy:
Do fetch my morocco portmanteau,
And bring them on later, dear boy.”
A thump, and a murmur of voices—
(”Oh why must they make such a din?”)
As the door of the bedroom swung open
And TWO PLAIN CLOTHES POLICEMEN came in:
“Mr. Woilde, we ‘ave come for tew take yew
Where felons and criminals dwell:
We must ask yew tew leave with us quoietly
For this is the Cadogan Hotel.”
He rose, and he put down The Yellow Book.
He staggered—and, terrible-eyed,
He brushed past the plants on the staircase
And was helped to a hansom outside.
I used to have an LP of Betjeman reading his poems
, with music, and that was one of my favourites*. He hammed up the PLAIN CLOTHES POLICEMEN a treat.* Though reading this review, every time they mention a poem I think "oh yes, that was one of my favourites, too."
I suppose "dope bass action" is another way of saying "a sort of thumpy-thumpy unsubtle rhythm". I wonder if I can get that LP on audible.