Saturday, September 30, 2017

Robert Sheppard: Charlotte Smith's Petrarch with Boris' big poetic gaffe!

I have recently moved onto Charlotte Smith's versions of Petrarch in my search for (in)appropriate models for poems about Brexit (well, that seems to be the dominant theme, though there are others in these trans translations). Of course, Smith was a Sussex poet and this feeds into the 4 I've written, being a Sussex poet myself (see my autrebiographies here and here.). But the fourth (and which, like my Earl of Surrey versions, stayed online only a short while) seemed topical enough to warrant immediate temporary posting. I was faltering with it, actually, but then Boris Johnson so richly came the rescue by doing somethin' stupid. So he went straight in. In the spirit of: don't criticise him: quote him! This is what I did in Oh! place me where the burning noon which begins with the line: 'Set me down on the Downs where Brexit beacons blaze...' I listened to the gaffe as it appears in a Channel 4 documentary on Johnson's ambitions (but which I hadn't seen before I wrote the poem) and included it, along with the ambassador's minatory words:

‘The wind is in the palm trees and the temple bells they say ...’
“You’re on mic Boris. Not a good idea.’ ‘What?’ ‘Not appropriate!’

Then I realised that, of course, BoJo misquotes Kipling, significantly for a Conservative, so here is the current version:

Or as frigid as May defending the bankers and Bonkers Boris;
‘The temple bells they say … er … come you back you English soldier ...’
“You’re on mic. Not a good idea.’ ‘What?’ ‘Not appropriate!’
Johnson mis-quotes (it’s ‘British’ not ‘English’) the Sussex poet Kipling about Burma, as Charlotte Smith, in my first four poems from her 'Elegiac Sonnets', is ventriloquising Petrarch. The narrator is the Earl of Sussex, a sort of take on Surrey. Kipling’s ‘colonial-era poem’ (to quote the media) was judged an inept recitation during Johnson’s official trip to Myanmar (before the genocide of the Rohingya, it is worth recording, as is the genocide).

Of course, this was before his gaffe about sweeping the bodies away in Libya to build a Western casino. Perhaps he could say something similar or similarly crass about the Las Vegas shooting. Oddly both Kipling's poem and the shooter's hotel were called Mandalay. I read nothing into this. Other than the boundless possibilties of stupid ennunciations by our FO in dangerous times. Of course, he is now professing loyalty, because he has to. But...

See Bo at it here:

Here's a reference to poem featuring Boris' worst and most far-reaching gaffe!

See here and here and here and here for more on my Petrarch obsession/project, including how to purchase Petrarch 3 from Crater press in its 'map' edition. Read the 'original' translation (if you see what I mean) and the doggie version here. Then buy it, if you haven't already.

The first review of Petrarch 3 by Alan Baker may be read on Litterbug, here. The second response, by Martin Palmer (blog to the right!) here.
A general piece on my sonnet-writing may be read here. See another sonnet, this time an 'overdub' of Milton, in International Times here: