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Friday, May 08, 2020

Robert Sheppard: from 'The English Strain' VE Day 1985 (Petrarch in the style of Wayne Pratt)



Victory In Europe Day had been annexed by the Brexiteers as Victory Over Europe Day but it looks as though the coronavirus has put paid to the more extreme displays of triumphalism. As a child of a good man who fought in the Second World War (see my Schrage Musik, here, my 'war poem', for him), I find the above itinerary pretty lame and jingoistic, but I DO have a VE Day Poem.

It appears in my sequence 'Petrarch 3', which is a set of variations on Petrarch's third sonnet (see below for its publication details). This one is a 'true story' as they say, but the meaning of the meaning of form is that its plot is now quite transformed. It is the story about the first 'date' Patricia and I took, which we were unaware was VE Day. We picked a backstreet London pub and walked into the celebration, as described (there was a man in a Nazi uniform and the old girls did find it funny, note, well before Prince Harry tried his great-uncle's one on). However, I have used the style of my parodic 'mainstream poet' Wayne Pratt (he appears in Twentieth Century Blues and in History or Sleep). The poem doesn't date from 1985, but 2011. I did, however, post it on here once before, as poem for Patricia's 60th birthday! See here.



VE Day 1985

                                                after Wayne Pratt


At the VE Night piss up, the gloom of the Blitz, the chill
Of V2s, Goering’s capture, Berlin scorched, were recalled.
Then forgotten, the old girls squawking along with Al Bowly.
On our first rendezvous we’d landed on this lot.

But this wasn’t the time for cockney triumphalism;
The cheeky young man in the SS glad-rags
Tickled the dollies’ flab. Pickled in gin,
they roared till they pissed their bloomers.

They fondled me and petted me and Love had to wait…
We sat up all night lost in the depths of each other’s eyes,
My hand just inside your blouse. My excuse was scabies,

And you were under orders to declare your bunch of grapes.
At dawn, we walked around the railings, Clissold Park.
Inside we could hear the parakeets sounding the all clear.



Read the 'original' Petrarch 3 translation (the poem I was 'transposing', as I'd say now), and another version, the Scouse doggie version, here.

'Petrarch 3' is the first part of The ‘English Strain’ Book One, The English Strain, which will be published later this year; read about it here .

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. 



There are accounts of my reading Petrarch 3, with set lists and summaries here and here


And you can watch me read some of my 'Petrarch' variations here.

Tom Jenks unfolding Petrarch 3

Sheppard, Robert. ‘Era il giorno ch’al sol si scoloraro’: A derivative dérive into/out of Petrarch’s Sonnet 3’, in ed. Carole Birkan-Berz. L'Aura del Petrarca. Oxford: Legenda, forthcoming, will explore the sequence more.

You may more profitably read Tom Jenks (see above, with Petrarch 3) on this sequence in The Robert Sheppard Companion, see here: