Yesterday I asked what the shock of this week's spending review would have on UK poetry. Well - I asked something like that. It was a cri de coeur, probably informed by the fact that I have somehow become so over-committed with various work projects that I have given up even trying to write poetry.
Having asked that, I then spent much of the day (probably the last sunny weekend day we'll have all year, and certainly the last one before the clocks go back) reading, and prepping a workshop on anapaests. (You want anapaests?! I got anapaests. I know from an anaepest now, I can tell you.) And then went down to the shop.
But luckily not everyone is in my current situation. And the British temperament, thought abroad to be fuelled by the stiffness of its upper lip, is in fact driven by something far more eternal. Something that in fact strenthens the upper lip; something that has driven the whole history of England's literature and art; something that enables history, in fact, to be allowed to take place at all. It is, in this culture that goes back over a thousand years (and is thus in some ways as intimate as a family, with shared references and no-go areas), the perennially self-generating force of satire.
So my heart leaped when I discovered today that my question is beginning to be answered. From a doughty corner of Britain - the corner occupied by the Scottish poet WN Herbert - comes the best thing of all: a parody of Lewis Carroll. In anapaests.
The Osborne and the Cameron
disturbed the oysters’ sleep:
by saving sandgrains from the strand
they made the oysters weep.
‘Should seven widows give their mites
to us for seven years,
do you think, dear Ozzie, that our debts
would somehow all be cleared?’
‘—Call the knackers,’ he replied,
‘And let them axe
The Osborne popped his bully cork
and struck the wasteful sun -
the oysters barked, so in the dark
he ate them one by one.
‘Should seven virgins save their oil
to balm our troubled brains,
do you feel, dear Clammy, we’d have power
for buses and for trains?’
‘—Control the yackers,’ he opined,
‘who knows, once hacks
The Cameron buttered buttered bread,
cut slices from the moon,
and, as the oysters whined, each oik
met with his silver spoon.
...and there's more - much more...