ON English Readings a short podcast/microlecture on Thomas Hardy’s poem, “Drummer Hodge”.
183 Saturday 12/09/09
RIP Timothy Treadwell
it’s eat, fuck & kill out there
that’s the law
if you mess with bears
they’ll eat you
Il Duce was too soft on you
and let you live
so your hair survived
the damp cells of Ustica and Turi
where you wrote a way out for your comrades
from the ruins of their revolution
I saw you in that photo
on a tutor’s wall
from before those prison days
hair thick and black
you in your neat commissar’s outfit
now every student reading Dante
inhales your spores
and can spell the word hegemony
afterwards I see it was a simple suit your wore
like any old bourgeois citizen
and your face had grown fat
though your hair was still black
if not so voluminous
pity you didn’t live to see
the bald dictator strung up and bloody
like a bulbous spider
that hegemonic bastard, death,
did for both of you, hair or no hair
@ Michael Blackburn, 2018
Telling lies to the young is wrong.
Proving to them that lies are true is wrong.
Telling them that God’s in his heaven
and all’s well with the world is wrong.
the young know what you mean. The young are people.
Tell them the difficulties can’t be counted,
and let them see not only what will be
but see with clarity these present times.
Say obstacles exist they must encounter,
sorrow happens, hardship happens.
The hell with it. Who never knew
the price of happiness will not be happy.
Forgive no error you recognize,
it will repeat itself, increase,
and afterwards our pupils
will not forgive in us what we forgave.
“Lies” by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, translated by Robin Milner-Gulland and Peter Levi. From the Selected Poems in the Penguin Modern Poets series, 1968.
The final paras of Part 2 of In Parenthesis by David Jones. Private Ball, the protagonist of this Modernist Great War poem, experiences for the first time the blast of a shell close by.
where the English wilderness is
in the interstices
along the margins
here at the roadside
deep in grasses, poppies,
mallows and escaped hypericum
wherever the wind bears the seed
wherever the buzzard has moved in
new territory of field, wood and air
not asking for our opinion
us, who are
wilderness in wilderness
(Poem 105: 29/06/08 from the poem-a-day project, 2008 – 2012, Michael Blackburn).