Stop all the rot, put down the blessed phone,
A dog will eat itself if you leave it too alone,
The radio has dropped to a heartless hum,
We know all the news that is still to come.
The sky was on fire and it’s in my head,
The memories hot as they freeze the dead,
The funeral lasts like the longest love,
My eyes look down, hell burns high above.
I have no direction, or home, or rest,
There’s a rattling thing inside my chest,
I know I once could sing a song;
I thought that music stayed forever: that was wrong.
The stars are way too far, they can help no-one,
Not the dead inside, not our dying sun;
Hear my broken voice, scratch my name in wood.I feel like nothing, for nothing is good.
RF 2017 (with obvious debt to W.H.Auden)
I usually like to start posts on here with a photo... but I can't think of a suitable one for this kind of piece. This post is just a poem and that poem the product of watching this news interview with a Grenfell survivor yesterday and then watching, later the same day, a documentary about the poet W.H.Auden (1907-1973). The documentary featured his well-known poem 'Funeral Blues' ('Stop all the clocks...') and so this afternoon I found myself reworking it with the Grenfell interview (and mental health matters in general, I suppose) in mind – they are never far from my mind to be honest, and are much in the news too just now. There are many reasons this Auden poem is significant in many of our lives (whether we like it or not) and its fabulous rhyme and rhythm have a lot to do with it (though there is the film/movie issue too of course... I am not a rom-com fan but I know someone who is...). When I watched the interview online yesterday I wanted to send my friend (who is a very good counsellor) down to the woman immediately... but of course my friend is very busy, as all good counsellors are, because they are so in demand. Our societies are broken in so many places that we struggle to manage day-to-day lives, never mind huge, terrible occurrences like the Grenfell fire.
p.s. I suppose some people won't approve of me reworking a 'classic' but I like this kind of thing (I'm quite partial to Benjamin Zephaniah's 'What If' reworking of Kipling's 'If', for example). And it works in music (you can like an original track and a cover version or a track that uses a sample of that original... see Chic and 'Rapper's Delight'). Not that I'm saying it's in that kind of category. Anyway...