Three new pamphlets are cooked to a turn for July reading, but also read on for a post script to last week’s J C Squire entry.

Three new pamphlets are cooked to a turn for July reading, but also read on for a post script to last week’s J C Squire entry.

Lydia Fulleylove’s Notes on Sea and Land really does have a lot of sea in it, in the best possible sense. And the sea is subtle, personable and female: “I wait for her, stroked by early heat, / an arrow dance of seagull feet.”

Crossing the Ellipsis, by Lorna Dowell, stretches the boundaries. Do you, like me, ever swim in your local pool? If so, you mustn’t miss the vicious early-morning swimmer in ‘Measures’. There’s preoccupation with communication, and the lack of it in most of these poems: “you lie in your sleep / in a speech bubble / it’s too dark to read.”

And then there’s Michael Loveday, editor of 14 Magazine, who presents his first collection: He said / She said. The tension of opposites is at the forefront: male/female, English/Polish, secret/public, forgetting/remembering: “have you got / the can’t forget / don’t forget / the can’t forget.”

So don’t . . . forget. You’ll find these in the online shop (with sample poems), or send for all or any by post if you prefer, enclosing a cheque (they are £4.00 each):

21 Hatton Green

And on another tack – the J C Squire blog entry last week produced some lovely responses, D A Prince pointed out that the ‘one liner’ I mentioned is in fact a line from a whole comic poem, The Ballade of Soporific Absorption, which happily can be found on line, because I can’t find it in any of my Squire volumes. Wonderful.

Another response was from George Simmers quoting ‘If Gray had had to write his elegy in the cemetery of Spoon River instead of in that of Stoke Poges’. It’s originally from the volume Tricks of the Trade, a satirical collection in which 10 poems are grouped under the title ‘How they would have done it’.

The poem George quotes (thank you, George!) is also titled ‘If Gray had written Spoon River Anthology’, and like all parodies, it partly depends not only on your knowledge of Gray (which is probable, since the elegy is still widely anthologized) but also on your acquaintance with the American poet Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology (1915) – perhaps fairly unlikely. Squire almost certaintly didn’t think much of Spoon River (though parody can be a form of compliment), and you may note he has a passing swipe at Masefield, whom he also held in dubious regard, see his parody of ‘The Everlasting Mercy’ in the same volume (it’s actually a parody of how Masefleld would have written Dorothy Heman’s poem, often known as ‘The boy stood on the burning deck’).

It’s a sad (to me, anyway) thought that Squire, who was a brilliant parodist, could write in the style of practically anybody, and produce huge mirth. Now it’s hard to believe a) anybody could do this and b) readers would be sufficiently well-read to get the joke.

In any case, Hemans’ poem celebrates the tale of young Giocante, son of the French commander Casabianca, who heroically remained at his post on deck of the French ship Orient, during the Battle of the Nile in 1798, as his father had instructed him, until the ship blew up.

Here’s a bit of Hemans:

The flames rolled on he would not go
Without his Father’s word;
That father, faint in death below,
His voice no longer heard.


He called aloud ‘Say, Father, say
If yet my task is done?’
He knew not that the chieftain lay
Unconscious of his son.


‘Speak, father!’ once again he cried,
‘If I may yet be gone!’
And but the booming shots replied,
And fast the flames rolled on.


And here’s a bit of Masefield:

Up go the winders, out come heads,
I heard the springs go creak in beds;
But still I heave and sweat and tire,
And still the clang goes “Fire, Fire!”
“Where is it, then? Who is it, there?
You ringer, stop, and tell us where.”
“Run round and let the Captain know.”
“It must be bad, he’s ringing so,”
“It’s in the town, I see the flame;
Look there! Look there, how red it came.”
“Where is it, then? O stop the bell.”
I stopped and called: “It’s fire of hell;
And this is Sodom and Gomorrah,
And now I’ll burn you up, begorra.”

And finally, here’s Squire doing Hemans in the style of Masefield:

Dogs barked, owls hooted, cockerels crew,
As in my works they often do
When, flagging with my main design,
I pad with a descriptive line.
Young Cassy cried again: “Oh damn!
What an unhappy put I am!
Will nobody go out and search
For dad, who’s left me in the lurch?
For dad, who’s left me on the poop,
For dad, who’s left me in the soup,
For dad who’s left me on the deck.
Perhaps it’s what I should expeck
Considerin’ ’ow he treated me
Before I came away to sea.

[You might want to know that Masefield shocked readers when ‘The Everlasting Mercy’ was published because it contained words like ‘Damn’ and ‘Bloody’, as well as passages in the vernacular. And though I am a Masefield supporter, Squire has a point. Several, actually.]

ps For your homework this week, rewrite the first section of In Memoriam in the style of one of the following: