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[ # 82 of My Favourite Short Poems ]
‘Another Unfortunate Choice’
I think I am in love with A. E Housman,
Which puts me in a worse-than-usual-fix.
No woman ever stood a chance with Housman
And he’s been dead since 1936.
A tale of unrequited love – By Wendy Cope
Reproduced from ‘The Big Book of Little Poems’ (Pub: Andrew Deutsch Classics)
Or … as Chaucer would have said …
‘Radix malorum est cupiditas.’
Give me more –
I’ll spend it
Take it away –
Plenty by far –
I’ll lend it.
Show it off –
becomes an obsession
Goes out of the door;
hits with depression,
I cry out –
What else is life for?
It’s not having
That is the obsession
It’s Loss that
Has brought on this fear.
What has caused my affliction,
My spirit’s constriction,
This stifling addiction,
and without contradiction,
It is knowing that now,
Somewhere and somehow,
I’ve breached my limit,
Dismantled my spirit.
For to my great cost
I have completely lost
That winning ticket.
For, Jiminy Cricket,
I know now I can’t win it.
I’ll never be sane
Not ever again
For I never will find
or retrieve peace of mind
That small slip of paper
That fortune creator
That few extra quid
That from me was hid.
I by fate was denied
‘Agonistes’ I cried.
Oh. Let me now lie
Where the poor people lie
And let it be said,
‘He was grossly misled.’
May it say on my grave
‘He, to lucre a slave,
by its loss was enraged.
He’d rather be dead
Without his Mercedes,
Just pushing up daisies
In the gardens of Hades.’
(No.63 of my favourite short poems)
I have published one of Roger McGough’s poem previously in this series. You will find it by clicking on this link: ‘Vinegar’ . . . Below is another of his poems which I very much enjoy, this time a short elegy for an unnamed poet. Written in a simplistic style, the poem nevertheless, with both wit and precision, goes straight to the heart of what a poet does and what s/he seeks to be.
He was a poet he was.
A proper poet.
He said things
that made you think
and said them nicely.
He saw things
that you or I
could never see
and saw them clearly.
He had a way
Images flocked around
him like birds.
St. Francis, he was,
of the words. Words?
Why he could almost make ‘em talk.
The souls of the dead are out for the night;
Relieved of life’s burdens, no cares in their world.
They’ve cast off their dresses, their suits and their coats.
They’ve shed their repressions, their shrouds now unfurled.
Yes, the souls of the dead are alive in this graveyard;
They relish their freedom from exigent life.
It’s a long time since spirits were body and flesh,
And bound by a lifetime’s perpetual strife.
Their skulls and their cross-bones – now symbols of joy;
No more are they bound up by sinews and flesh.
At last they are free to enjoy independence,
Instead of entangled in life’s viscous mesh.
The gravestones that tumble aren’t suffering from age,
But signs that life’s shadows from death have arisen,
And now are quite free to enjoy their repose;
No longer locked up in Life’s sepulchral prison.
‘Tis weird to think that those re-incarnated
Are liking their life in the desolate grave.
They’re loving their freedom to scare and to haunt
To curdle the blood and to panic the brave.
The ghosts of the past are there in the air
And hugely enjoying their spirited life.
Their terminal death has brought to an end
Their fear of the gun, the rope and the knife.
They’re dancing on graves where their bodies were buried;
Carousing as though not a netherworld care.
‘Tis different from life all bedevilled with worries,
Less urgent and pressing than work to be fair.
They hide when the day comes of course, as you know,
They do need to re-charge their unworldly spirits;
To ready the next bout of haunting and mirth.
For them now there aren’t any rational limits.
Crepuscular light is enough for their congress,
With help from the thunder, the wind, and the lightning,
They frolic and haunt, enjoying the moment;
The wraiths, spooks and demons intent on their frightening.
The banshees and devils all join in the fun,
The shades and the vampires, the ghouls and the phantoms,
The zombies, the Manes, kelpies and ghosts,
Give vent to their passions in furious tantrums.
So do not despair when you‘re laid in the ground
A new life will certainly sprout from your ashes;
A life full of spirit, of new spectral bliss,
A bonus when mortal life finally passes.
The photographs used to illustrate this poem were all taken by me over a period of several years at churchyards in Surrey and in Devon, U.K.
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