Guest poem submitted by Kamalika Chowdhury: It's been a while since you've run Spike Milligan on the Minstrels. I thought this one would make a good addition to the archive.
"Spike was entirely his own mad Irish self. He came out of nowhere." Comedian Stephen Fry's tribute to Milligan's talent speaks perfectly for his poems. Among the typically crazy comic fare of his verse, there lie poems that convey a less cavalier and more poignant voice - these are rarer, but equally memorable. One such is "The Soldiers at Lauro" (Poem #831 on the Minstrels). Browsing through Milligan's work, I found another lovely little poem, that deviates from the norm. This one is not dire and helpless in tone on the lines of ".. Lauro"; in fact it is soft-textured and full of light, like the girl's "dove-secret loveliness" and "joyous hair". Nonetheless, it manages to very gently bring home a huge point about life, love and happiness. Milligan's touch has a salt-of-the-earth quality to it that makes it immediately credible. He does not disguise the young girl's objective ugliness in mirror-image, just as he manages to completely convey her new-found beauty from within. And what a master wordsmith he was! I can't imagine a better way to say so much in a single line than: "on her lips hung/ a smile of dove-secret loveliness". Kamalika.