Thursday, 8 January 2015

In the beginning...(A cat for all seasons)

...My early poems have been lost, either in the mists of time, or, and that is more likely, have been chucked out alongside all my memories of school, by my mother, who probably needed the space!

My first Russian Doll  is one of my earlier poems, though I wasn't thinking of the Russian Doll phenomenon in poetry (see also first blog post). Sometimes rhythm and repetition take over, as they did here. Russian dolls are playful, of course. As for cats: I can assure you that McIntosh took over the family until he decided to move on. Form is a natural part of poetry-writing and there are hundreds of styles, some of which I would like to discuss as time goes by, not least because I'm very much a learner poet! There is something rather trite about the 5 line form used here, but it is meant to make reciting it more musical. A light-hearted poem that does not like being read out loud lacks musicality. There are plenty of poems you cannot endure because reading them aloud is like walking over cobblestones. Other poems you can only endure when they are recited. A good example (for me) is Longfellow. I used to read Longfellow aloud sitting up in bed soon after I had discovered that reading was amusing. Coming back to Longfellow after many years, I was surprised how much the poem had influenced me musically, but also, how arduously constructed much of it is, especially in the matter of finding rhymes. There are, of course, a lot of poems you would never dream of reading aloud unless alone, since it can be quite embarrassing to be smothered in other peoples's emotional outpourings! Nevertheless, poetry can come from and reach the depths of the human soul. Shakespeare knew, as did many who went before him and innumerable who came after.

A cat for all seasons (1988)
(with sincere apologies to T.S.Eliot)

There’s crash in the kitchen,
Everyone groans.
It’s that horrible cat again,
Mic, Mec, Moc, Macintosh,
Up to his ears in the cranberry sauce.

There’s a splash in the bathroom,
Everyone screams.
It’s that terrible cat again,
Moc, Mec, Mic Macintosh,
Up to his eyes in the luxury foam.

There’s a scrunch in the sitting-room,
Everyone shouts.
It’s that mischievous cat again,
Mec, Mic, Moc, Macintosh,
Spreading the plant soil all over the rug.

There’s a plink in the music room,
Everyone jumps.
It’s that musical cat again,
Plonking the piano with four little paws.

There’s a silence all round us,
Everyone sighs.
It’s that tired weary cat again,
Dear sweet old Macintosh,

Counting the sheep at the foot of my bed.