“One has to speak with thunder and heavenly fireworks to feeble and dormant senses. But the voice of beauty speaks softly: it steals into only the most awakened souls. Gently my mirror trembled and laughed to me today; it was beauty’s holy laughter and trembling”
– Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Earlier this year I went on a fantastic, unforgettable trip to France and Switzerland as part of an MA Romanticism course. As a group we gelled almost immediately, and one night, after a long day of roaming the Grasmere hills and reading and reciting Wordsworth’s genteel poetry, we got drunk and decided to write some of our own… needless to say our take on Wordsworth was a little more explicit than the original. We decided it should revolve around Jeff, who was our fantastic and friendly tour guide through Wordsworth’s life and work, whom we all liked and liked to have a laugh with. So here I give you our collective masterpiece by a bunch of drunk Romantic literature students.
‘Thrills with Daffodils – A Wordsworthian Lovesong for Jeff’ by a bunch of drunk Romantic Literature students
Oh Wordsworth, you surely cannot know what
your words are worth to me?
Was it for this?
Or was it for John Carter?
But know this, my Jeffrey:
When I read the prelude,
I feel the need to get nude,
to let loose, in the reclusion of you…
Surely there is no manuscript
without you and I?
And twere there a shortage of pages
I need only your sodden, emptied clothes
for this, my lovesong for the ages..
The way you so tenderly touch the books spine
O’ twas sublime! Might you do the same with mine?
And Lo! On a gentle Grasmere peak
I wandered lonely as a cloud
You made my dick stand tall and proud…
As a curator, you conserve the past,
and so I wonder how long you’d last…
would it be dream-like slow or rapid fast?
And wherefore would our clothes be cast?
In the midst of pleasure when you said “go harder”!
I cried back “NO! Pray but think on John Carter!”
I could arrange the objects in your museum
In a way that will make you cum…
We might near that beauteous Elysium,
If you’d but do me up the bum?
O’ Come inside my Dove Cottage!
Bind me! Stitch me! Hold me hostage!
Dorothy and William let us follow…
let us pick up those fallen pieces
and stitch them together, like you didst to me.
Oh Jeff pray take rest, I shall be your scribe..
As you share your love of Will
May I play with your quill?
But give me a moment, I need to refill.
You folded me over in every direction
Will you help me sustain this massive erection?
The way you unfolded the map
To my heart, twas but a trap…
I remember in the room that tranquil breeze
But rejoice in knowing it was only you I seek to please.
I worked oh so hard to form a quarto
But alas! all I could get was an erecto.
Your homemade ink hast left a stain upon my heart,
While these manuscripts of such delicacy,
Set my heart aflutter like a feathered quill.
I’m bamboozled by your love,
Oh Jeff, you make me feel like a first edition…
You ask questions aplenty, to make us smarter
But the answer of course, is e’er John Carter.
You impressed me with such erudition,
And ere with your permission
didst I move the book-bearing box,
and pray as not to make you cross.
You taught me to count,
Just know that you can count on me,
And while I know how much you like rough edges
To these gentle hands one pledges.
Grab the needle and stitch me,
Make surest that thy hands are clean,
and be my needle, tend my seem.
And with your permission, John Carter,
We shall get dirty after class,
Shalt thou take me up the Mer de Glace?!
O Pluck my dainty daffodil!
And know that ten thousand daffodils dancing
Cannot compare with the tender rhythm of our humping.
I think often on when you showed me the prelude manuscripts
and freely weep,
As we bang on sweeping hilltops like horny sheep.
Feed me your Grasmere gingerbread
Whilst you go about giving me head.
And when you taketh me to bed
Twould be no struggle to get Jerwood.
Ah, let it be known the Grasmere trust
Didst nothing but stoke the flames of my lust,
Why we could together wipe the dust from Will’s bust,
Then fuck, ever so thoroughly we must..
Through time we shall travel,
The deepest mysteries of your body must I unravel.
I will write you a lyrical ballad,
whilst you gently toss me like a salad.
SAMO, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s early alter ego, once wrote ‘graffiti is a poem the city writes to itself’. Though he’s best known for his iconic grafitti art – which sort of blends 80 neon, cave/wall art and tiki masks – his origin you might say was words. SAMOs words plastered and invigorated the New York city streets of the late 70s. Dwindling democracy, rife racial discrimination, violent capitalism and rampant poverty.. these topics were the rocket fuel to his booming creative engine. His words, like his art, were simple and yet pierced to the bone, they grappled with the deeper, underlying truths which were not to be found anywhere else. They made the unspoken not only visible, but beautiful. though already well on his way to the history books and stardom, in 1980 he was befriended by Andy Warhol who immediately saw his artistic genius and even bought some of his work.. Basquiat was made. Later he would collaborate with Warhol, though Warhol himself, one of the most iconic artists who ever lived, was disconcerted by just how easily his own work became lost, drowned out and utterly overshadowed when put anywhere near the sheer aesthetic immensity, originality and gravitational pull of Basquiat’s art. Jean-Michel died tragically of a drug overdose at just 27, but he was prolific, and created thousands of sketches, and hundreds of larger paintings which continue to hold great power and significance.
Below is a series of fragments taken from Basquiat’s early notebooks (ed. Larry Warsh), which I’ve rearranged to make a series of poems. Many of the words and phrases appear again and again in his grafitti/art/poetry – a hoard of words and images that he cut and pasted here and there, not unlike that method used by William Burroughs, an author whom he greatly admired. Many of the phrases in the books are crossed out, and it is not known for certain why. It could have been that he did not like these fragments, or maybe because he had already used them out on the streets. If the latter is true he’d have been something like an 80s NY version of Wordsworth: wandering about with his notepad and spraycans, jotting down ideas and poetic fancies as he went about on his odyssey, through streets thrumming and overflowing with energy and vibrancy. A sense-blitz, in which his creative mind was set alight by the scenes all around him. Many of these fragments, as you’ll see, are so vivid and poetic they could easily have come straight out of the pages of the Beat poets. They’re simple, raw and cut to the core. Here is
THE DREAM WILL NEVER DIE
ACCEPT THE REALITY OF LIVING
RUSHED INTO A LIMO BY SECRET SERVICE
IN A FRONTAL ATTACK
MILLING IN THE CROWD
TODAY HE ADMITTED TO BEING FOOLISH
RAN INTO THE TRAIN TO BEAT OUT THE FLAMES
THEY HAD TO
THEY FALLEN ASLEEP AND WERE INHALING THE SMOKE
SLIGHT CRACK IN THE GAS LINE
EMPTY AND MISRABLE THIS LIFE IS AN OPEN SORE FESTERING BRICK RUINS TOMB HOLLOW MORTURARIES VOICES OF AUTHORITY MAKE MAJOR CLAIMS
FROM THE EAST
GATHER AROUND THEM
THE BAR WAS REALLY RED WITH CHINESE PAPER CUTOUTS
AND WOOD PANELING
THERE WAS A GLASS ARGUMENT AT THE POOL TABLE
IN THE BACK
“THAT’LL BE EIGHTY CENTS POP”
6 OR 7 OLD PUGS IN FELT
SHE LOOKED LIKE A VILLAN FROM TERRY AND THE PIRATES
I FEEL LIKE A CITIZEN
IT’S TIME TO GO AND
COME BACK A DRIFTER
THE LAW OF LIQUIDS
THAT THORN IN MY HEAD NAGGING
MY FISTS CLOSED
VICTIMS OF EMBELLISHED HISTORY
THE SPORES FLOATED ON EVERTHIN
COLONIES OF BLACK RODENTS
PLAY THE PART FOR HIS OWN REASONS
A MARBLE IN A SHOTGLASS
AFTER BREAKFAST HE STEALS A WALLET
FROM DAY OLD DRUNK ON SATURDAY MORNING—–
KERNELS OF CORN AS A FINAL OFFER
FOR DEFECTIVE RIFLES
A YOUTH WITH “CROW” SYNDROME:
(AN ATRACTION TO SHINY OBJECTS)
SEES THE STONE AROUND HER NECK
THE JIG IS UP
SO SAY GOODBYE TO THE NIGHTMARE
ON AUTOMATIC PILOT
FLICK OF THE WRISK
AREA CODE OF ST. LOUIS
HE WAS PASTY WHITE
NO HE WAS SWARTHY, DARK AND SEXY—
NO HE WAS PASTY WHITE X—
NICOTINE WALKS ON EGGSHELLS
THE EARTH WAS FORMLESS VOID
FACE OF THE DEEP
SPIRIT MOVED ACCROSS THE
WATER AND THERE WAS LIGHT
“IT WAS GOOD”©
BREATHING INTO HIS LUNGS
2000 YEARS OF ASBESTOS.
I occasionally dip into Kerouac’s Book of Haikus or ‘pops’ as he called them. He once said “a haiku must be very simple and free of all poetic trickery and make a little picture”. And so they‘re not inhibited by the rules of traditional haiku, just free, random, and spontaneous.. three lines to capture a scene or moment or idea… and he was a master of it.
the sun keeps getting
dimmer – foghorns
began to blow in the bay
the sky is still empty,
the rose is still
on the typewriter keys
In the sun
the butterfly wings
like a church window
You’d be surprised
how little I knew
even up to yesterday
praying all the time –
the bird came on the branch
-danced three times-
and burred away
Drunk as a hoot owl
heavy rain driving
Into the sea
orange and black
On a summer butterfly
Wild to sit on a haypile,
in the saffron sky-
The Holy Ghost wanted it
Barefoot by the sea,
stopping to scratch one ankle
With one toe
in the starry night
the little tree
Swinging on delicate hinges
the autumn leaf
almost off the stem
rain’s over, hammer on wood
rides the sun shine
And here are a few of my own inspired by Kerouac:
a swooping swallow
sketches the outline
of distant mountains
a falcon perches
on the crash barrier
waylaid by human logic
saw white walls
she saw snowy hills
in some childish dream
he smeared paint onto my cheek
I tipped into infinity
driving by night
the snow hits the window
like stars at warp speed
will you fall
into these words
or stumble over them?
through clouds of people
by these people of the forest
who spoke only truth
on a higher plane
prancing branch to branch
birds in flight at dusk
cold white mornings
leaves in icy stasis
forever in amber
“Here is the great city: where you have nothing to seek and everything to lose… Here is the Hell for hermits’ thoughts: here great thoughts are boiled alive and cooked small. Here all great emotions decay… Do you not smell already the slaughterhouses and cook-shops of the spirit? Does this city not reek of the fumes of slaughtered spirit?… Woe to this great city! I wish I could see already the pillar of fire in which it will be consumed! For such pillars of fire must precede the great noontide… I offer you in farewell this precept: where one can no longer love, one should pass by…”
– Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
“I love all those who are like heavy drops falling singly from the dark cloud that hangs over mankind: they prophesy the coming of the lightning and as prophets they perish. Behold, I am the prophet of the lightning and a heavy drop from the cloud!”
– Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
beckons the glorious maelstrom
to o’erthrow the ages
“one day my name will be associated with the memory of something tremendous – a crisis without equal on earth, the most profound collision of conscience, a decision that was conjured up against everything that had been delivered, demanded, hallowed so far. I am no man, I am dynamite”
– Nietzsche, Ecce Homo
“Individuals cannot choose a better life than that of holding themselves ready to sacrifice themselves and to die in their fight for love and justice”
– Friedrich Nietzsche