Skip to main content

Did we really do that?


Did we really do that?

It’s easy to ask this question as we look back and see what terrible things happened in the past.
Not just happened – but were thought of as normal, unexceptional: what people like you and me were quite happy to countenance, if not actually do.
Well, perhaps some people sometimes felt that was a bit harsh… who knows?
But for the most part, decent folk like you and me just accepted it – that’s how it is, life goes on, why change how we do things and I’ve got quite enough to do already.

Slavery’s an obvious example of course.

I recently wrote a poem about another: the scold’s bridle, an iron helmet with a plate pressing down on the tongue, used on (what were considered to be) vociferous women – yes, almost invariably women.  I was of course pleased that my poem won a prize, but my consequent revisiting the writing of it and the research stirred me up all over again, with a renewed and heightened sense of astonishment and anger.
(The poem’s on the Poetry Society Website, if you want to read it)

Did we really do that?

And what will that question be focused on, as they (‘we’) look back on us?

There are of course several strong candidates, ranging from how we’re destroying our world to the gross inequalities we tolerate, but I hope – and sometimes believe – the time will come when warfare and all that underpins it will be thus seen.

Well, bringing it back to the individual, which is where we started, here’s another example – very much more modest to be sure, but irrevocable. Something we did then that is totally inconceivable now (I choose the word with care).
This one applies just to males, for what that’s worth.

Worth. 

Was it worth it? At the time, society generally, the family and the parents in particular thought it was.  I think of Alessandro himself wondering if the benefit outweighed the cost.

As for us, we are left shocked, asking that same old question – did we really do that?


Alessandro Moreschi


I shed my ballast long ago
so I could fly.  With loss I found
a strength and lift above all others.

I paid the price from my small purse –
two tokens for the future, spent
upon another end.

I cannot say if I regret
that which I cannot do
for I have power to move –

I’ll carry you on wings of song
high into the clouds. I’ll soar and swoop
across this world of sound

I’ll bear you up to heaven even.
Then we shall gently float
to land at last, in silence.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Viral Information

Viral Information




Virus - a word much heard not just at this time of year ('there's a lot of them about') but one that's spilled quasi-metaphorically into other non-biological areas, you might say succeeding virulently... gone viral?

 But that's what viruses do, and do very well.
Fulfilling only some of the criteria for qualifying for life status, here are strange creatures indeed, not that that's the right word at all - not organism, more construction, set of instructions or even just a programme.  So the use of the word in computer malfunction is hardly metaphorical...
Approaching this extraordinary - but so frequently encountered, so in a way not extraordinary at all -  thing (I find myself reduced to using this rather weak word) that may be represented in (admittedly astronomically colossal) sequences of numbers, with words - all that poetry possesses, however they may be presented - poses problems. 
So I thought I'd turn to a different sort of poetry: …

Everyone a King

Water Music


I just had to post this poem while we’re still in 2017. Handel’s Water Music was premiered on the odd, if not magical date of 17/7/1717.
It wouldn’t be the same somehow in the boringly even year 2018...




We played hard that evening, us fifty from Whitehall to Chelsea, then all the way home. Till four in the morning we walked on the water gently in duples, jigged hornpipes in three,
from Overture to Air we strolled and we danced staccato, legato, allegro, con brio our melodies flowed down the river, lost as we played them.  But he liked what he heard.
Three times he wanted it, over and over, ‘I shall have it again’, and he had it river reflected, broken by waves those symphonies, rippled like flags
fluttering a moment. So we too were kings for a while, gorgeous and golden along with the real one, old George. And the younger as well, he was well pleased
to breathe in his music, inspired by this water, refreshed and transformed as an echo which travels the river long after we’d played our way home.



A…

The Unexpected

I like September.


It's not just that it feels as though the effort of keeping summer going can be given up, almost with a sense of relief.


No, it's more than that - here's a new season, fresh in its own special way.


As September contains a quarter day (itself relating to the solstice) I read that it was a time when people were hired, land was exchanged and debts paid.


So various things start now, like the academic year, making it a month for new beginnings -  although it draws heavily on recent growth, sometimes hardly noticed.
And then there's all the fruit, of course, only too often celebrated poetically...
But much more interesting are the arrivals that startle.
I mean the fungi - extraordinary things which literally spring up overnight.
Not things though - they're living plants.   No, not plants - organisms - but that doesn't sound right. As for the proper term 'fruiting body' - well, that suggests something quite different.  They are worlds away from all thos…