Category Archives: books

In Passion Hot

In passion hot
Children are begot
And time forgot.
Yet the clock’s whir
Is still there
Heed it or not.

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Students At Manchester University Paint Over Kipling Mural

Students at Manchester University have painted over a mural of Kipling’s poem “If”. They say that they where not consulted regarding the murel, that Kipling was a “racist” and an “imperialist” and that it was not appropriate for the mural to have been painted.

I agree that the students should have been consulted (as the mural was in their student union building). However I am in agreement with the editor of the Kipling Society’s Journal when she says:

““Of course he was a racist. Of course he was an imperialist, but that’s not all he was and it seems to me a pity to say so,” she said. Montefiore argued that Kipling was “a magical story-teller” and that his perspective was part of history. “You don’t want to pretend that it all didn’t happen,” she said.

“Dickens said dreadful things about black people in the Jamaica rebellion. Does that mean you don’t read Dickens?” (https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/jul/19/manchester-university-students-paint-over-rudyard-kipling-mural).

I am not, as it happens, a fan of “If”. I feel that Kipling produced far better verse, including his “Danny Deever”, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46782/danny-deever, in which he describes the hanging of a soldier for killing a comrade “while sleeping”. However the tendency to project our own values onto the past is worrying and (if we are not careful) can end up with censorship.

In my poem “Rhodes” I deal with a not dissimilar issue, namely the demand by “The Rhodes Must Fall” campaign to have the statue of Cecil Rhodes removed from Oriel College Oxford, https://newauthoronline.com/2016/11/23/rhodes/. In the case of the Rhodes statue those campaigning for its removal have (thus far) been unsuccessful.

Our Man In A Place Called Bangkok

Our man in a place called Bangkok
Owns an old grandfather clock.
Each day at dawn
He takes Pimms on the lawn
To the chimes of that grandfather clock!

Our man in a place called Bangkok
Owns an old grandfather clock.
His mistress Dawn
Thinks the chimes forlorn
So she doesn’t like that clock!

Should Poets Use Swear Words In Their Poetry?

In June 2017, I wrote a post entitled “Its My Blog and I’ll Swear If I Like”, https://newauthoronline.com/2017/06/27/its-my-blog-and-ill-swear-if-i-like/. In that article I argued that everyone has a right to run their blogs as they wish, including utilising swear words in posts. I also stated that swearing has a place in literature, for instance a gangster novel in which none of the characters swear would be wholly unbelievable.

I am, as pointed out in the above piece, no plaster saint myself and will on occasions swear in my personal life. However this is a rarity and when I swear it is, almost always under my breath and its not something of which I am proud.

I was reminded of my 2017 post by this article on the blog of the poet Giles L. Turnbull, http://gilesturnbullpoet.com/2018/04/01/i-swear-that-be-poetry/, in which he discusses the use of swearing in poetry. The article makes for interesting reading but utilises several four letter words, consequently anyone who would find this offensive may wish to avoid clicking on the above link.

As Giles points out, Shakespeare and Larkin (amongst others) employ swear words, for example Larkin’s “This Be The Verse” is famous (infamous)? For beginning with “They f . . k you up your mum and dad, they may not mean to, but they do”, and (in the case of Philip Larkin) the use of the “f” word is wholly justified (there would not be a meaningful poem where he to have written “they mess you up your mum and dad”. However I remain of the view that the sprinkling of poetry (or any other writing) with expletives for no reason other than shock value serves no useful purpose and I personally find such utilisation offensive.

Kevin

I Know A Young Lady From Thailand

I know a young lady from Thailand
Who said “your wish is my command”.
When I ordered “iron all my clothes”
She punched me on the nose.
Her language I do not understand …!