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National Poetry Day (in England)

National Poetry Day (in England)

Here in Australia we had a National Poetry Week seems to have left this mortal life last year. This is the and of footie and cricket and the beach, (all of which I enjoy), it is a disappointment that poetry lags so far as absence in people’s everyday lives.

I was reading War Music the other day, Christopher Logue’s retelling of the Iliad, wonderful. So what he knew no ancient Greek (mine is long gone). War Music garnered rave reviews. ‘A work of genius . . . the most magnificent act of translation going on in the English language at the moment,’ George Steiner; ‘I’m crazy about it. Haven’t seen such poetry in ages.’ Henry Miller Best of all listen to Alan Howard perform a chunk.

I recall picking Logue up from Sydney Airport affable and jetlagged – he must have been about 75 then. Here is part of his 1958 poem on being a poet, ‘To My Fellow Artists’. The whole poem is here

Today, it came to me. How you
My friends who write, who draw
And carve, friends who make pictures,
Act, direct, finger delicate instruments,
Compose, or fake, or criticize—how
In the oncoming megaton bombardments,
All you stand for will be gone,
Like an arrow into hell.

It is strange, and yet
If I tell you how the sunlight glitters off
Intricate visions etched into breastplates
By Trojan smiths—you say: Yes, Yes.

And if I say:
Around my bedposts birds have built their nests
That sing: No. No.

Or say:
When I flog salt, it rains; when I sell flour,
It blows—you feel my hopelessness.
You understand my words.

 

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