Sunday, September 23, 2007

Brit Wit

Two selections from an anthology of New British Poetry (Graywolf, 2004) that I was reading this afternoon - both hilarious:

Alba Einstein

When proof of Einstein's Glaswegian birth
First hit the media everything else was dropped:
Logie Baird, Dundee painters, David Hume - all
Got the big E. Physics documentaries
Became peak-viewing; Scots publishers hurled awa
MacDiarmid like an overbaked potato, and swooped
On the memorabilia: Einstein Used My Fruitshop,
Einstein in Old Postcards, Einstein's Bearsden Relatives.
Hot on their heels came the A.E. Fun Park,
Quantum Court, Glen Einstein Highland Malt.
Glasgow was booming. Scotland rose to its feet
At Albert Suppers where The Toast to the General Theory
Was given by footballers, panto-dames, or restaurateurs.
In the US an ageing lab-technician recorded
How the Great Man when excited showed a telltale glottal stop.
He'd loved fiddler's rallies. His favourite sport was curling.
Thanks to this, Scottish business expanded
Endlessly. His head grew toby-jug-shaped,
Ideal for keyrings. He'd always worn brogues.
At bannocks in exile. As a wee boy he'd read The Beano.
His name brought new energy: our culture was solidly based
On pride in our here, The Universal Scot.

- Robert Crawford

That Old-Time Religion

God and His angels stroll in the garden
before turning in for the night.
They've adopted the style
of rich and gifted young Englishmen this evening
and also, bizarrely even for them, decided that they shall speak
in nothing but Sumerian to each other
which all agree was a truly heavenly language.

It isn't long before God starts boasting
in Sumerian of course, that He's the only Being He knows
who knows by heart The Bothie of Tober-na-Vuolich,
and is about to prove it when Lucifer intercedes
to make the points that

a) they've all agreed to speak Sumerian, which was never the tongue of that estimable poem, and that unless He wants to
pay the usual forfeit, which wouldn't really be consonant
with His divinity, He'd better give up the idea;

b) should He decide to do it into
instantaneous and perfect Sumerian metres,
a feat of which they're all aware He's capable,
He wouldn't be proving His grasp of the original
and would run the risk of them thinking Him a show-off;

& c) since He, God, and not Arthur Hugh Clough must be regarded
as the only true author of The Bothie, as of all things,
he, Satan, doesn't see what the point of it would be anyway.

In the silence which follows the Creator is keenly aware
of the voice of the nightingale, then murmurs of consensus,
them much delighted laughter from the angels.

Lucifer bows.

The nightingale stops singing.

God sighs. He could really do without these bitches sometimes
but then where would He be?

As if to answer this question to Himself
He withdraws to the farthest reaches of the garden,
and leans on the parapet, smoking in fitful gloom,
for what seems like an eternity.

He lights each gasper from the butt of His last
then flicks the flowing end far into the dark,
displeased at His foreknowledge of where it will fall.
To KNOW what His more intelligent creatures have thought
of these lights that appear in August out of Perseus
and not to have disabused them of it, as He's always meant to,
is unforgivable. He gazes in their direction in the dark
and gives them His Word that soon He will change all that,
silent at first, then whispered, then shouted in Sumerian.

- Peter Didsbury


Szerelem said... topic, but tag. You might have done it before though?

Falstaff said...

szerelem: Did it a long time ago. Here:

Entropy said...

The second poem is just brilliant - loved it.
Thanks for introducing me to it.