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Project 52 ’11 4: Anthology

January 26, 2011

For this week’s Project I’ve trawled through the archives to bring you a couple of things from my dissertation. I use the word dissertation quite wrongly as what I actually did was to write a series of poems and hand that in, in lieu of doing any real work.

Due to an error by my tutor, a lot of the work was rushed and the standard varied greatly. I did get an extension because of this but this also meant that I had to hand in my dissertation on the same day as a 5000word essay.

I don’t know what the final word count on my essay was because I can’t find it and it’s one of the only things the University never sent back to me. I passed the essay and I have no idea how. I would love to read it back again because I genuinely do not remember what I wrote in it.

I wrote out my poetry (2102words) and my critical analysis of them (4,806words) before sitting down to read both of the plays involved, make notes on them, find critical sources and write the essay. I must have written nigh on 12,000 words in 24hours and came as close as ever I would to failing the whole shebang.

I think what really comes across in some of this is how much of a chancer I was sometimes. I suppose I was lucky enough to have this chancing coupled with intelligence enough to pull it off but unfortunate not to be granted the intelligence to manage my time better or to stop procrastinating.

Anyway, this post is about the couple of decent things I actually managed to cobble together for this anthology of mine. I won’t bore you with the commentary I wrote for them, instead let you make up your own mind as to the techniques you think I used, where my mistakes were and if the poems were actually any good.

The first is a sonnet about lampposts (I kid you not). If I remember rightly I wrote it for a friend who gave me the subject after I bragged about being able to write about anything:

Lampposts

I went to see the shining stars tonight,

But they were choked by many weird

And rootless trees (or so I thought), which seared

And dazzled out of all control. They’re bright –

So much brighter than distant stars – and block

The softer ancient light I love. I stood

Appalled; they stood in rows – the strangest wood

I ever saw. Their straightness seemed to mock

And pity twisting nature. Yet for all

Their haughty airs, they bathed the darkened road

In fault-exposing light. They chose and showed

The tarmac’s brightest diamonds, lighting small

And dewy nooks within the road. I saw

The man-made stars that shine without a flaw.

The second is also a sonnet and is pretty self-explanatory:

Modern Man

As a modern man I come in many parts:

An email or maybe two, or three; perhaps more!

There’s always one I strictly keep for business or

The formal mail. Another’s for matters of the heart.

A pin. That’s all I’m worth. Without those four

Important numbers, all my worldly wealth

Is locked away. Impotent, in perfect health,

I cannot eat unless I go withdraw.

A man of six foot two, but not as tall

As the sum of all my parts, the most of me –

My mobile number, passwords, waist size, tea

Or coffee, white or brown, address, install

The update; mother’s maiden name, location

Your shoe size, best side, current occupation.

This next one is written in the alliterative verse form. It’s a very ancient form (Beowulf uses it and later works like Piers Plowman and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight) and I wanted to write something like this as a way of tribute I suppose to a verse form which I love. The title refers to the three alliterative stresses followed by an un-alliterative stress that signifies each line.

AA/AX

On this wretched Wednesday, working late

My head is hounded with a heart that’s in flux –

Aside from sleeplessness, from staying awake,

Apart from prosody and poems and work,

Why am I awake? What is disturbing me?

The atmosphere is awkward, alien and breathless;

The unknown niggles me, it gnaws deep

And grinds against me, goading and teasing.

Through all my darkest dreams in depthless nights

And boyhood bouts of abandoned hope,

I never before felt this fury, this anger

Which disturbs, troubles and tries sanity.

If sins and saints matter yet in such a place,

Then heaven help this helpless soul

With support, purpose and a place to go.

The next one I include purely because I want to and it shows how madly in love I was and am with the place I went to uni.

City Circus

Roll up! Roll up! Saunter and stroll up.

Come and admire; come and get close up

To the town with a national park on its threshold.

Let us unveil, reveal, unfurl and unfold

The most spectacular sight that the north has to yield –

It’s the marvellous, beautiful city of Sheffield

There are feasts for your eyes and lots to appeal,

And delights for the senses in the City of Steel –

There’s no end to the parkland, it has to be seen,

There’s Norfolk and Endcliffe and Devonshire Green,

The Winter Gardens and Millhouses Park.

With their fountains and statues all fit for remark.

For shopping there’s Fargate, Weststreet, The Moor

And Meadow Hall acts as a terrible lure.

At The Crucible Snooker has a natural home,

The centre of Sheffield is well worth a roam.

What else of Sheffield can I recommend?

Suspend your amazement; just wait till the end –

Ladies and Gentlemen, low and behold

The wonderful sights of the Eccleshall Road:

Both citizens and students have lots to explore:

There’s the pubs and the bars and shopping galore,

The Botanical Gardens, Collegiate Crescent.

There’s no end to the joys, it’s fast and incessant.

But to see it the way that I love it the best

You have to get ready, get washed and get dressed.

You’re in for a treat, for a marvellous sight –

Out on the town on a Saturday night.

The final offering in the one I deliberately stuck at the back of my anthology and at the back of this post because I regard it as the best. It really took me away from writing about what I knew and looks at the world from someone else’s point a view. Not a nice person and certainly one whose mindset was difficult to tap into.

Abuser

You’d lie for me, once: lie because you loved me,

Because we had something worth keeping.

We were happy the way we were.

I remember you lying on the floor: perfect.

You were always so graceful –

You fell slowly to the floor, like a feather

As if sinking through clear, flawless honey:

Slow, sweet and painless.

You know it’s because I love you

I send you to the floor, slowly.

Gently your hair slowly folded

Onto the warm, safe floorboards

Now we live together in the photographs we took

Which I keep in a little box beneath the bedroom floor

Along with all the pretty drawings you drew of us,

Softly yellowing and slowly fading.

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