Guest poem submitted by Steve Axbey : I've been meaning to send this in for ages (and now it'll be lost amongst a big pile of responses to your request: curses!):
(Poem #360) I Wish You Were a Wave of the Sea
Fretting my heart as you pedal your bicycle, Perdita, once I called, Perdita, twice I called. Pretty as paint and as cool as a icicle, Perdita Simmons! Shall I tell how we met under fortunate auspices? Presuming a bottle of Spanish Don Horsepiss is Fortunate... This is not one of my coarse pieces, Perdita Simmons. Syllables shimmy as sonnets assemble Themselves in a shadowless summer a-tremble - A ten-guinea ticket for Merton Commem Ball With Perdita Simmons Daddy's a saurian Cambridge historian. Mummy's more chummy. She's tweedy and Tory and Hunts and what-have-you. So very Victorian Is Perdita Simmons. Thus Mainwaring, tall dark and rich, with a glance as much As to say, My dear boy, I don't fancy your chances much I know Perdie of old, and she doesn't like dances much, Doesn't Perdita Simmons. Perdita's hair ruffles fairer and tanglier, Perdita's grin makes my ganglia janglia, Perdita's uncle owns half of East Anglia, All for Perdita Simmons. Mainwaring's plan is for getting a leg over; Wait till she's plastered (the bastard!), then beg of her. No go. (Ho-ho!) Now his face has got egg over. From Perdita Simmons. Oh, how spiffing! (She talks like a school-story serial, While my lexical style is down-market and beery.) All Love is insane and remote and ethereal And Perdita Simmons. As we're pounding the ground in a last hokey-cokey, dawn Fingers two constables, hauling off chokey-borne Mainwaring, pissed as a rat on the croquet lawn. Sweet Perdita Simmons. Half-asleep, climbing from Headington Hill, at the crest of it Sickle moon, scatter of stars and the rest of it, In my hand one small hand (and this is the best of it) Of Perdita Simmons. Perdita murmurs, You'll do for a poet. And kisses me carefully twice, just to show it. Nobody knows what love is. But I know it. It's Perdita Simmons.
I am surpised to realise that this is one of my favourite poems (I immediately knew that it would be this poem that I would one day send in to the Wondering Minstrels). I love it for the rythyms, the clever rhymes, the abrupt changes of pace (but still managing to flow) and the ending. But most of all because it's so much fun. (It also helps, perhaps, that I first heard it read live by the author while I myself was a student at university). John Whitworth was born in 1945 (the book jacket says) and his first collection was called Unhistorical Fragments. This poem is taken from Poor Butterflies (1982) published by Secker and Warburg. I couldn't find any biography on the net and as far as I know he isn't at all famous - but I would be pleased to be corrected! Re-reading the poem again it suddenly strikes me how British it is so, for the benefit of the non-Brits, here's a glossary: Merton Commem Ball - Merton is a college at Oxford University. Their annual Commemoration Ball is a lavish, sparkling affair. Tory - Conservative Mainwaring - is pronounced "Mannering" (so the poem does scan!) plastered - drunk chokey - prison pissed - drunk (in the UK "pissed off" means annoyed, but "pissed" means drunk, causing endless Anglo-American fun). Steve. [thomas adds] Ever since Steve sent this poem in, I've been going around singing 'Perdita's grin makes my ganglia janglia' at random intervals...