The New Statesman and some more astonishing poetic 'discoveries'

Posted by Abigail Williams on Sunday, November 07, 2010 with No comments
Following on from the media furore over our ‘Milton’s bawdy poem’ story, the New Statesman launched their own miscellany-related competition. Citing Jenny Batt’s observation that if the faggot poem were by Milton, it would prompt a major revision in Milton scholarship, they asked their literary readers to produce some more ‘newly discovered’ poets’ works that would prompt similarly transformative understandings of those writers. The entries, printed here, show us Larkin, Wordsworth and Eliot in a wholly unfamiliar light…

Philip Larkin

They cheer you up, your mum and dad.
They surely mean to and they do.
They fill you with the joy of life
And add some pleasures, just for you.
As they were cheered up in their day
By friends in jolly hats and capes,
Who half the time were out to play
While telling funny jokes and japes.
Man hands down happiness to man,
It warms you like the rising sun.
So live as merry as you can,
And spread good cheer to everyone.

Brian D Allingham

William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud,
And thought that it was such a shame
I wasn't standing in a crowd
Where I could watch a football game.
So I trudged on for hours and hours,
And all I saw were dreary flowers.
It was enough to make me weep;
My shoes were tight; my feet were sore;
No company but bleating sheep,
The countryside is such a bore.
Drenched to the skin by frequent showers,
I gladly trampled on the flowers.
And now, when on my couch I lie,
In this dull vale where I was born,
I seldom think of hills or sky -
I'd sooner read a bit of porn,
Or take a trip to Alton Towers;
Oh how I hate all bloody flowers!

Ian Birchall

T S Eliot

Gallow grass, coiled in the hangman's noose,
Source of inspiration, bringing
Altered animation, changing
The pattern of my perception.
What news of Herodotus?
Let us mourn the dead,
Casting seeds upon the heated stones, revealing
Ancient mysteries in heavy, pungent fumes.
Hempseed I sow, hempseed grow,
He that would marry me must come and mow.
Look behind you. What do you see?
A shadow, hooded, silent; in his hand a scythe.
Acrid, harsh, this smoke that penetrates, invades
The corners of my consciousness.
Without "the normal weed", where's the invention?
Dans la brute assoupie un ange se réveille.
I hear Euterpe's melodies, embrace the muse.

Sylvia Fairley

William Wordsworth

And in the rainy season - which was all
The bloody year around - we spent our nights
Rampaging through the town in games confederate,
And mugging any woman over eighty.
We were a noisy crew; the local bill
Beheld not more obnoxious yobs than we.
For, uselessly employ'd, we spent our days
Upon the eastern shore of Windermere,
Ogling local talent by the lake,
Or leaving gates ajar for sundry dogs
To mingle with the sheep to hearts' content,
Or strewing every fell, ghyll, pike - whatever,
With lager cans and empty bags of crisps
And Pringles - Oh, unfading recollections!
We spread our foot-and-mouth disease
Beside the lake, beneath the trees
On all those boring vales and hills
Trampling the bloody daffodils.

David Silverman
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