Boris’s penchant for Kipling had its 14 minutes of fame recently, highlighting our nation's division of opinions on narrative verse. Some people love it. Some people see a love of poetry as marginally more socially acceptable than having Ebola. Less itchy maybe.
Robert Browning is supposed to have said, ‘Art is pooh-poohed by poets that plague us with lewd ditties, and painters that pester with nudities.’ That’s as may be. Like Al, I love bringing poetry to mind 'for the occasion', and never think twice about whether or not a verse holds hidden meaning: the words are rich and tactile and innocent and - memorable. That's all.
When I discovered Dylan Thomas, I uncovered nuggets such as this one:
A worm tells summer better than the clock, the slug's a living calendar of days; what shall it tell me if a timeless insect, says the world wears away?’
Leaves me with a bit of an inferiority complex, if I'm honest. I managed this:
"Lay awhile among the heather, wondering who has passed hereby; who has lain the purple robe among the mosses where you lie; how the scented musk was woven; rugged, regal, rolling lawn; on warp of mint and sorrel weft, lay your head and watched the dawn."
Feeble. I know. But it was inspired by a combination of Scottish scenery, an outrageous hangover, and the nagging doubt I’d had an argument the night before about the Pantone reference for the euchlorian liquid in my glass.
Far better this, by Rudyard:
“Till the snow ran out in flowers, and the flowers turned to aloes, And the aloes sprung to thickets and a brimming stream ran by; But the thickets dwined to thorn-scrub, and the water drained to shallows, And I dropped again on desert - blasted earth, and blasting sky...”
Who needs Mandalay, eh?