(Random thoughts regarding Adelaide Writers’ Week, 2023 – a verse dialogue)
(With apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Thomas Stearns Eliot)
A lovely form there sate beside my bed,
And such a feeding calm its presence shed,
A tone so pure, far from earthly leaven,
A message reassuring, newly down from heaven.
‘Twas some comfort – A fact drawn from bone;
“We read to know that we are not alone.”
And yet here it shrinks back, as if mistook!
That weary, wandering, disavowing look!
‘Twas all another feature, look and frame,
And still, methought, I knew, it was the same!
And yet, not so, to whom does a book belong?
Is’t history? vision? ranting, or an idle song?
Or rather say at once, within what hell-space,
What toxic tent this wild disaster took place?
Call it a moment’s work (and such it seems)
My tweets and speech, fragments from a life of dreams;
Whereas hard graft and years matur’d the silent strife
Of my books, the product of a hard-worked life.
But reading, too, can become a strain;
No more can hard work justify a gain,
So we clutch our pearls, our books, and pen,
Hoping to glimpse the familiar again.
Author! author! we declare:
Clap our hands held in the air,
Stop and stare and venerate
As ‘celebrities’ pontificate.
The mist that stands ‘twixt God and thee,
Dispersed to pure transparency,
That intercepts no light and adds nothing
But aged hags who rattle their bling!
We display a range of views,
All in deprecation of the Jews
In varied vitriol. Thus we raise Voltaire
On high in this public/private square,
And decry the figures of the left –
Criticizing them all from the left,
Intellectual property is the theft.
We are the hollow ones
We are the hollow ones
Leaning all together
Headpiece filled with straw
THE VARNISHED CULTURE
Permission to speak? I shall anyway:
There is no light here at midday,
This tent to honour the Caliphate;
Grassy knoll of ignorance and hate.
An orgy smacking of progression
That puts in mind a great depression;
Diversity is measured in coffee-spoons,
Inclusion sings quite exclusionary tunes.
A group of ‘rebels’, lacking fangs;
A tired set of pantomime gang-bangs,
Marxists cavilling at the cheery
Ones, absent, and moreover, leery –
Someone to blame for their lack of talent:
Who points, and points-out that the gallant
Has no clothes. Yet a motley, capable to please
A group of senile OAPs.