Saturday, 24 February 2018

Saturday 24th February - Important News

(I know the day and date, because they've just told me on the 'Today' programme, on Radio 4. What a useful broadcast that is. However I've switched it off before they start annoying me with too many opinions and speculations. I know shouting at the 'Today' programme is part of my cultural identity but I didn't want to disturb the peace this morning)

The Really Important News is that I have just this moment discovered the sound recordings on www.thepoetryarchive.org

Radio 4 again. This is what we pay our license money for, and what makes it all worthwhile.

I was dipping into Clive James'  'Poetry Notebook' (too many ' ' marks in a row, but I don't know how to do that differently) and came to the chapter called

'Poetry Archive Tour'.

This is a list of poems, and his comments on the poetry, and how the poet reads them, BUT NOT THE TEXT. so, I reached for the gadgetry to find the text, and discovered www.poetryarchive.org

I've given the web address twice. For two reasons. So I don't forget, and to give you a chance to remember it.

So far I've listened to the first four poems in his 'tour' of the archive, and another along the way;

'Mayflies' by Richard Wilbur (which lead to by accident to the - to my mind - even more startling 'Barred Owl' - but who am I to disagree with Clive James?)

'The Whitsun Weddings' by Philip Larkin, which I encountered a few years ago; it reads like the outline plot for a novel or a short story. I'm tempted to have a go.

'A Subaltern's Love Song' by John Betjeman. Joan Hunter Dunn is how everyone knows it - rather charmingly JB can't find it in the book because he can't remember the real title. (Another ready-plotted novel?)

and then I listened to/read

'Jerusalem' by James Fenton, which needs a good deal more reading and thinking about before I go further.

Stone cries to stone,
Heart to heart, heart to stone,
.....
stop me here before I write out the whole poem. But the lines seem to fly off the page with the force of a video documentary or news photography. here come a few more snippets;
.....
this is the cistern where all wars begin
.....
Jerusalem itself is on the move.
It leaps and leaps from hill to hill
....
This is us and that is them,
This is Jerusalem.
These are the dying men with tattooed wrists.
Do this and I'll destroy your home.
I have destroyed your home. You have destroyed my home.

Now I shall go and do something useful about war, or religious intolerance, or poverty, or refugees, or something, anything, because Jerusalem is everywhere, leaping across boundaries, continents, seas...



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