Tuesday, 21 January 2014

The Fall of Oscar Wilde

The Fall of Oscar Wilde

Low hanging fruit, a family feud,
a misspelled note, a libel suit,
mock indignation and ire,
to please your lover liar,
a bullet made for you to fire.
Sling enough mud they say....

Sling enough mud, it sticks,
exactly what the Marquis did!
Like you he paid the boys in gifts
for services rendered, to lift the lid
off your desires – and so
the gun backfires again.
O the irony of it!

Haughty speech and florid prose,
he took the stand to maintain,
some aesthetic pedagogic pose,
became so voluble on
the love that dare not speak,
claimed to mentor and to teach.
Though I think it was less Latin,
something more like Greek.
It amounted to a guilty plea.

And working class boys
pretty and expendable,
off the Piccadilly meat-rack
could go to the highest bidder and aren't
yet loyal or dependable when a better
offer's on the table, or perhaps
a worse threat.

Each man kills the thing he loves.
Outcasts always mourn. From
Pentonville, Reading & Gaulic exile,
poured overwrought remorse.
Talk of true nobility in suffering -
The Soul of Man Under Socialism,
De Profundis, repudiate and deny
a view you once endorsed,
that art was beautiful lies.

Cursing penury and fuelled
by whiskey absinthe and gin,
dying in the hotel d'Alsace
under another name,
It was shooting yourself
in the foot that ultimately did you in.
Well, that and the wallpaper,
so it's claimed.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Scraping The Barrel (A Villanelle)

I love the villanelle form. It's usually used for deadly serious poems, the most famous being Dylan Thomas' Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight. However, I recently came across a wrly funny example by Wendy Cope Villanelle for Hugo Williams, mildly chastising him for bastardising the form. I decided to write my own in the same tone.

I'm sure all your friends will agree
You're mining the sofa for change,
You're scraping the barrel with me.

It's really not you, it's totally me,
I'm odd, queer, peculiar, strange,
I'm sure all your friends will agree.

You know there are plenty more fish in the sea,
Don't plumb the depths it's deranged.
You're scraping the barrel with me.

You've set your sights to the lowest degree,
Grubbing the basements, the bargain range,
I'm sure all your friends will agree.

In this spirit I'm returning to thee,
All the gifts we exchanged,
You're scraping the barrel with me.

Time heals and one day you'll see,
We were always estranged.
I'm sure all your friends will agree,
You're scraping the barrel with me.

Listen to Scraping The Barrel