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My Love is Theosophist -- Patrick Barrington

Guest poem submitted by William Grey:
(Poem #1551) My Love is Theosophist
 My love is a Theosophist
   And reads the Ramayana;
 Her luncheon is a pot of tea,
   Her breakfast a banana.
 She says that matter tends to clog
   The spirit-force behind it.
 My love is a Theosophist,
   And very tough I find it.

 My love is a Theosophist
   And wears no combinations;
 She says they get her thought-urge weak
   And lower her vibrations.
 She tells me flannel next the skin
   Impedes the astral motions.
 My love is a Theosophist,
   And has the strangest notions.

 My love is a Theosophist,
   And few things I deplore as
 Sincerely as the thoughtless way
   She crabs her neighbours' auras.
 She sensed Miss Hope's as bilious green,
   And got some quack to vet it.
 My love is a Theosophist,
   And many folk regret it.

 My love is a Theosophist,
   And though distinctly stouter
 She moves on a more mental plane
   Than do the folks about her.
 She moved into a potted plant
   Last week at Mrs Reece's.
 My love is a Theosophist,
   So I picked up the pieces.

 My love is a Theosophist,
   And has an intimation
 That she was Florence Nightingale
   In her last incarnation.
 She senses me as Titus Oates,
   More Ape-man than Apollo,
 My love is a Theosophist,
   And difficult to follow.

 My love is a Theosophist,
   And does not seem to worry
 If they forget to send the fish
   Or fail to cook the curry.
 As my potatoes grow more burnt
   Her temper grows the sweeter.
 My love is a Theosophist,
   And lives on Veeta Weeta.

 My love is a Theosophist--
   Or, rather, is no longer;
 For, though her Ego-urge was strong,
   The Cosmic Will was stronger.
 While moving on the Higher Plane
   She moved into a lorry.
 My love was a Theosophist,
   And really I'm not sorry.
-- Patrick Barrington
Patrick Barrington succeeded an uncle to become the 11th Viscount
Barrington. He died at the age of 81 on 6 April 1990.  There was an
enthusiastic audience of devotees for Barrington's whimsical verse, much of
it published in Punch in the early 1930s.

'My Love is a Theosophist' is characteristic of his style.  It is
instructive as well as entertaining. References to psychic beliefs
("vibrations", "cosmic will", and so on) show that little has changed in
psychic belief systems over the last 70 years. A chemist or physicist who
walked through a time warp in a laboratory of 70 years ago would be
immediately struck by the archaic apparatus in use.  If you walked into a
spiritualist's or psychic's den of 70 years ago -- apart from the absence of
a personal computer on the desk in the corner -- you would perceive little

That is one way of illustrating how science develops by it superseding and
replacing inferior theories and methods in a continuing process of
innovation which fosters a progressive incremental process of improvement in
our understanding.  Paranormal beliefs, in contrast, are moribund. The
silver lining to this otherwise darkish cloud is that Barrington's whimsical
scepticism resonates as delightfully and with as much relevance today as
when they were penned more than seventy years ago.

William Grey.

Wodwo -- Ted Hughes

Guest poem submitted by David McKelvie,  :
(Poem #1550) Wodwo
 What am I? Nosing here, turning leaves over
 Following a faint stain on the air to the river's edge
 I enter water. Who am I to split
 The glassy grain of water looking upward I see the bed
 Of the river above me upside down very clear
 What am I doing here in mid-air? Why do I find
 this frog so interesting as I inspect its most secret
 interior and make it my own? Do these weeds
 know me and name me to each other have they
 seen me before do I fit in their world? I seem
 separate from the ground and not rooted but dropped
 out of nothing casually I've no threads
 fastening me to anything I can go anywhere
 I seem to have been given the freedom
 of this place what am I then? And picking
 bits of bark off this rotten stump gives me
 no pleasure and it's no use so why do I do it
 me and doing that have coincided very queerly
 But what shall I be called am I the first
 have I an owner what shape am I what
 shape am I am I huge if I go
 to the end on this way past these trees and past these trees
 till I get tired that's touching one wall of me
 for the moment if I sit still how everything
 stops to watch me I suppose I am the exact centre
 but there's all this what is it roots
 roots roots roots and here's the water
 again very queer but I'll go on looking
-- Ted Hughes
Favourite poems are an odd thing. They're not necessarily the best in the
world and almost certainly not the worst. They just creep up and stick
there. I can't really say why Wodwo is my favourite poem but since I first
read it (sitting in Hamilton Library, drying off from the rain, staying in
the Main Section rather than going to study upstairs in the Reference
Section) it has stuck with me.

At first it confused me. "What's Wodwo? Is it a thing? What kind of creature
is it? Is this a poem about Hughes in the forest? Is it an animal in the
forest?" It's a poem of confusion. But with that confusion there was also an
exhilaration at the language, the lack of punctuation, at questions like
"What am I doing here in mid-air? Why do I find this frog so interesting as
I inspect its most secret / interior and make it my own? Do these weeds know
me ... do I fit in their world?" The sheer breathlessnesss of it all hit me

The poem is one big long question, summed up in the first three words. To
the little lost student I was at the time it came to to be the most
important thing in the world. And of course it wasn't then and it isn't now.
It's not Hughes' best poem, and it's not his worst. But it is my favourite.

Oh, and what *is* a wodwo? I wrote an article about this poem some time ago
and you can get the answer there if you want:
Well, co-wrote. My knowledge of Middle English is slightly lacking!


Ted Hughes on the Minstrels:
  Poem #42, Hawk Roosting
  Poem #98, The Thought Fox
  Poem #417, Thistles
  Poem #671, Lineage
  Poem #723, Full Moon and Little Frieda
  Poem #768, Theology
  Poem #882, Wind
  Poem #1306, A Cranefly in September
  Poem #1550, Wodwo

Health Fanatic -- John Cooper Clarke

Guest poem submitted by Ian Barnett:
(Poem #1549) Health Fanatic
 Around the block, against the clock:
 tick tock, tick tock, tick tock;
 running out of breath, running out of socks;
 rubber on the road; flippety flop;
 non-skid agility; chop chop,
 no time to hang about!
 Work out, health fanatic, work out.

 The crack of dawn, lifting weights;
 a tell-tale heart reverberates;
 high in polyunsaturates,
 low in polysaturates;
 a Duke of Edinburgh's award awaits.
 It's a man's life;
 he's a health fanatic; so was his wife.

 A one-man war against decay.
 Enjoys himself the hard way;
 allows himself a Mars a day.
 "How old am I? What do I weigh?
 Punch me there! Does it hurt? No way!"
 Running on the spot, don't get too hot;
 he's a health fanatic, that's why not.

 Peanut power; stay ahead,
 running through the traffic jam taking in the lead.
 Hyperactivity keeps him out of bed.
 Deep down he'd like to kick it in the head.
 They'll regret it when they're dead:
 there's more to life than fun;
 he's a health fanatic; he's got to run.

 Beans, greens and tangerines
 and low cholesterol margarines;
 his limbs are loose, his teeth are clean;
 he's a high octane fresh-air fiend.
 You've got to admit he's keen.
 What can you do but be impressed;
 he's a health fanatic. Give it a rest!

 Shadow-boxing; punch the wall;
 One-a-side football;
 "What's the score?" "One all."
 Could have been a copper; too small.
 Could have been a jockey; too tall.
 Knees up, knees up! Head the ball!
 Nervous energy makes him tick;
 he's a health fanatic. He makes you sick!
-- John Cooper Clarke
The poem's by the Mancunian punk po├Ęte maudit and has aged very well since
it was penned back in the godforsaken days of Thatcherism. The Dr. Seuss duh
simplicity of some lines set against tripping (as in 'tripping up') metrical
asymmetries (his limbs are loose, his teeth are clean; / he's a high octane
fresh-air fiend. / You've got to admit he's keen.) deliciously evoke
post-modern man stumbling, choking and ultimately croaking through life and
missing the point. This memento mori of our times has me, as I hope it has
you, in stitches! Get it?


Let the memorial hill remember -- Yehuda Amichai

Guest poem submitted by a contributor who wishes to remain anonymous:
(Poem #1548) Let the memorial hill remember
 Let the memorial hill remember instead of me,
 that's what it's here for. Let the par in-memory-of remember,
 let the street that's-named-for remember,
 let the well-known building remember,
 let the synagogue that's named after God remember
 let the rolling Torah scroll remember, let the prayer
 for the memory of the dead remember. Let the flags remember
 those multicolored shrouds of history: the bodies they wrapped
 have long since turned to dust. Let the dust remember.
 Let the dung remember at the gate. Let the afterbirth remember.
 Let the beasts of the field and birds of the heavens eat and remember.
 Let all of them remember so that I can rest.
-- Yehuda Amichai
        from "Songs of Zion the Beautiful"

I like this poem since it exposes our natural wish to get released from
agonizing memories and thoughts by forgetting.  Here Amichai speaks about
sacred memories, of people (friends?) that died in war, for defending the
living, among them Amichai. Another interesting twist of this poem, is that
it describes monuments built for the fallen as a tool for remembering things
for us, so that we can forget. Something along the lines of the electric
monk of Douglas Adams (which believes in things that we don't have time to
believe in).