Irish Papist

Irish Papist
Me and General Robert Lee

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Forty Years Ago

NOTE: This is a poem I wrote a few years ago, when I was wallowing in a rather unfocused and inchoate conservatism, living in lodgings, listening to Sgt. Pepper over and over through headphones, reading Philip Larkin and George Orwell, suffering an unrequited attachment, eating granola bars for supper, etc. etc. Even then it didn't really represent my settled or unsettled views. But it's told from the point of view of a fictional character so that's OK.

I like to throw a bit of poetry onto the blog now and again, since I think poetry is important and neglected. If it bothers you that I publish my own poetry here, please make a complaint in writing to The Manager, Tesco, Dooradoyle, Limerick, Ireland. See if he cares.

Behind closed curtains, forty years ago
Fills up the screen in black and white.
How strange it must have been (he thinks) to grow
Up in the craters the Luftwaffe made;
To be a baby of the Blitz. But night
Has fallen now on history’s parade.

He watches mini-skirted women jive,
The pale young hero cursing TV sets
And package holidays. To be alive
When time was like the weather! When the news
Was like a story! Now nobody gets
Excited about class, no one has views

About the Common Market, no one talks
About how things were different in my day;
That’s gone the way of Cromwell and Guy Fawkes.
Time is an air-conditioned office now
And history an infinite replay.
There’s nothing that the world will not allow;

No rationing; no walking half a mile
To hear a radio, no being called
To spend two year in khaki; no big trial
For dirty books; at last nobody cares.
Curse on the telly, no one is appalled.
Puncture your face with studs and no one stares.

Nostalgic for small-mindedness, he feeds
On scenes of pits and queues and kitchen sinks
And every day the whole mirage recedes;
The guy who played the miner’s son just died
And she’s a Dame, that mini-skirted minx.
In this last room where history can hide
He owns a world of ghosts, self-mummified.

1 comment:

  1. Antaine, I accidentally deleted your too-kind comment about this poem. (The "publish" button and the "delete" button are right beside each other, and I was using my smartphone.) Sorry about that. I wrote this a good few years ago, when I was more reactionary than I am now (which is saying something!). I had the theory that history had come to an end-- something I no longer believe. But since it is from the point of view of a fictional character I don't have to be held to it! I like to put some poetry on the blog now and again, since I think poetry is important and even bad poetry is better than no poetry at all!

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