For John Whitworth, poet
Oh, Whitman was a rhymer who enjoyed to play the part
Of complicating everything. It’s something of an art
To ramble on for pages on the pinprick of a thought,
Which makes word choice irrelevant, and form seem overwrought,
And chokes the flow of meter like a clot within the heart,
And leaves the scansion bumpy as an overladen cart.
Oh, you may paint your wheelbarrows as red as Commie traitors,
Make sure your plums keep cool and bland in sleek refrigerators,
And hope to Heaven you will cause great earthquakes and unease
Disturbing all the critics huddling roosted in the trees,
But Whitworth’s worth more half again than all the free verse clamor
That issued from that country boy whose hyperbolic stammer
Has branded modern poetry these hundred years or so.
So, now along the bottom road, as in arrears we go,
Feel sorry for poor poets blaring pompously, full blast—
And wave the flag for wit and humor—these things truly last.
English poet John Whitworth passed away
in April of 2019. Among his other accomplishments his last book
was Joy in the Morning (Kelsay, 2016). He
also wrote a book about writing poetry—Writing
Poetry (A&C Black, 2001)—and was the
editor of the anthology Making Love to Marilyn Monroe: The Faber
Book of Blue Verse (Faber, 2006). Quoted on thehypertexts.com:
"I write in rhyme and metre because ... because that is what I do. That
is the way poetry presents itself to me. I can't write it any other way.
I'm not at all sure I would want to, but even if I did want to I
Bury A Poet
Some poets write, then publish
what is written—
Victorian ladies comment, are half smitten,
Close followed by those ones who count mistakes—
And in the end, well… all it ever takes
Is some old crank know-nothing with a grudge
To space out paragraphs of narrow sludge;
Bean-counting lists; more negative the better;
Word after word, to make one bitter letter.
these words are measured by
The blot upon the page, and all in sight
Join in the ruckus looking for a fight.
This fan club—harsh and brash—is on the rise,
To praise each other’s efforts to the skies.
The poet? Buried
in subservient lies.
He’s on his speaker; she’s talking on her phone.
He hears her clearly; she feels left alone
Beneath the surface of the deepest waves,
And strains to find the clarity she craves.
His sentences lack something at the end,
Then tidal pull returns them, lest the bend
Of that deep undertow of thought and sense
Might rise up and demand some recompense.
Those other people climbing in his car
Push him across the waves to take him far
Beyond the depths where she might care to go—
She isn’t sure how far, and must go slow.