What the ‘now’ constitutes now is the nesting-down of quarantine and lockdown, and the ‘Nest’ issue is presented as a strand which may be accessed here:
There are lots of responses by artists and writers to the issue (though only one I recognised, Amy McCauley, whose work I admire greatly), and I’m the latest in this strand.
My contribution, which I read on the short video above, is ‘An overdub of The Dancing Girl by Letitia Elizabeth Landon’, one of the ‘14 Standards’ from the section of that name in British Standards. Big thanks to Dimitra.
’14 Standards’ were all written in ‘lockdown’, and sometimes obliquely, and sometimes directly, refer to that event, though each is a version of a poem by a significant Romantic poet. This is the section of British Standards where the concentration on Brexit becomes dispersed.
Letitia Elizabeth Landon (LEL as she’s known) is pretty much recognised today, though I don’t know the work that well, though she has a large selection of sonnets in the anthology I’ve been working from, which I have read with interest and pleasure; it was quite difficult to choose a poem. There’s a recent biography too, and a slightly churlish review of it here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/may/24/lel-by-lucasta-miller-review-poet-letitia-elizabeth-landon .
The title about dancing got me thinking about my collaborations with dancer Jo Blowers. See here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2016/02/robert-sheppards-shutters-at-prelude-to.html for details of a piece called ‘Shutters’ from the 1990s that was revived a few years ago, and to which I allude here. More on work with Jo here and here. Of course, I’ve experimented with the form here, and the word ‘form’ is indeed the axis the poem spins on. Here’s LEL’s original for intertextual reading:
A light and joyous figure, one that seems
As if the air were her own element;
Begirt with cheerful thoughts, and bringing back
Old days, when nymphs upon Arcadian plains
Made musical the wind, and in the sun
Flash’d their bright cymbals and their whitest hands.
These were the days of poetry—the woods
Were haunted with sweet shadows; and the caves
Odorous with moss, and lit with shining spars,
Were homes where Naiades met some graceful youth
Beneath the moonlit heaven—all this is past;
Ours is a darker and a sadder age;
Heaven help us through it !—’tis a weary world
The dust and ashes of a happier time.
British Standards was begun in 2020, after Brexit Independence Day; the first section was finished late March, by which time we were already ‘nesting down’. For that first section, I transposed poems from part of Wordsworth’s ‘Poems Dedicated to National Independence and Liberty’, retitled ‘Poems of National Independence’, cheekily subtitled ‘liberties with Wordsworth’. I write about that sequence here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/03/the-last-of-my-wordsworth-versions-in.html
‘14 Standards’ (with links to other poems in the sequence) may be read about here: http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/05/robert-sheppard-14-standards-from.html
British Standards is Book Three of ‘The English Strain’ project. There are two comprehensive posts to check out, one that looks at Book One, The English Strain here and another at Book Two, Bad Idea here . All these posts carry further links.