31 December 1991

Recycled poetry

I wandered lonely as a cloud
Through caverns measureless to man
Upon this low and earthly stage
And I was filled with such delight

My love is like a red, red rose
A flood of rapture, so divine
And faith shines equal, arming me
A mind at peace with all below

In fearless youth we tempt the heights
Exulting on triumphant wings
And thus I’ll take my pilgrimage
From house to house, from hill to hill

Come live with me and be my love
In England’s green and pleasant land
Drink to me only with thine eyes
And justify the ways of God

I leant upon a coppice gate
Some corner of a foreign field
What are those blue remembered hills
That is no country for old men

A glorious morning I have seen
The splendour falls on castle walls
And ships by thousands lay below
A structure of majestic frame

Though soon, at the appointed hour
With echoing straits between us thrown
I struck the board, and cried, “No more!”
Quite sick of pomp, and worn with cares

Stone walls do not a prison make
Of cloudless climes and starry skies
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies
The man of independent mind

Comments

I found a book in the library which claimed to contain several hundred of the greatest poems ever written, arranged by author. I started browsing, but couldn’t help noticing that all the poets featured were Dead White Males (with the occasional token Dead White Female). Long-dead too; I couldn’t find anything written this century. It annoyed me that this compendium of relics was putting itself forward as the definitive anthology of great poetry.

I decided to drag it into the 20th century. And what better way than via appropriation and détournement, the dominant modes of contemporary art?

If you’re the sort of person who likes classical poetry (which seems unlikely, given that you’re here), then feel free to tax your memory identifying the authors of each line in the verse. There are no prizes, however. And please don’t send mail asking me to check your answers—I didn’t record the names of those worthy poets, and can now only identify a few of the lines.

© mathew 2017