Tuesday, April 27, 2021

ON THIS DAY 2020 I wrote a lockdown transposition of a Willian Bowles sonnet and was rude about Bo

πŸ‘ON THIS DAY 2020, when coronavirus had long taken hold and what we thought of as THE lockdown unfolded more slowly than we had thought possible, I was still writing my responses to it all, as here, in one of my ‘14 Standards’, using some Romantic poems (which will be presented deliberately out of order in any subsequent book, as though 'lockdown' stepped out of historical time).  It was published on the Poetry and Covid website, here: Six Poems (poetryandcovid.com)  

But here’s the poem again, in case you missed it. (The website published a number of my poems, and I suspect they disappeared quicker than I intended. I expected them to select only one!) It is a transposition of the poem announced in its title. Bowles was very important to the development of the Romantic sonnet, and to Coleridge in particular,


To the River Tweed by William Lisle Bowles

Boss Bo’s wandering hand stirs the spirit
of those stuck in the world with a single pose
watching crumbling profit margins disappear
in a mighty wave plug the ear of pity

for Bo’s faith in the arrival of pre-lockdown
trains under Arriva franchise touches us all
blue ribbon Mersey free fringed with mist
my Muse eyes the bank lone impassive

returning theatre diverts his wandering wave
the soothing calm of presidential disinfectant
thrills in Bo’s nightmare throat he spills

his cleanest mots under his trembling mighty
hand as I sing he speaks of passing peaks of
grit and guts his wonted pride thumbs-up emojis


27th April 2020/13th May 2020

Later tinkering. I actually did quite a lot of tinkering with this poem. I originally wanted to write a second poem with lacunae and caesurae (like the last one posted) but I really don't like holes in my lines. I can't hear the space, as it were.  In several poems I did just manage it, which is quite consistent with the decision that the '14 Standards' should all look different - and be different, therefore, formally distinct and distinctive from one another. I do remember that when I wrote it a thought of 'the Arriva franchise' and the chaos on the railways of Britain was already a distant memory. Yes, that first lockdown was the weird one, wiping the past hazy.

This poem comes from the ’14 Standards’ part of British Standards, which you can read about here:

Pages: Robert Sheppard: 14 Standards from British Strandards is complete as one sonnet appears at the virtual WOW Festival 2020 (hub post)

British Standards is the now completed third book of the ‘English Strain’ project: Pages: Transpositions of Hartley Coleridge: the end of British Standards (and of The English Strain project) (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)

You may read about the first book and second book here. Indeed, you may now buy them.

Book One, The English Strain is described here (on a post that was written before it gained its title!) There’s another post on Book Two, Bad Idea here .

 I am delighted to say that Book One, The English Strain is available from Shearsman; see here:


I am also delighted to say that Book Two, Bad Idea is available from Knives Forks and Spoons; see here:  https://www.knivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk/product-page/bad-idea-by-robert-sheppard-102-pages

Read the first review, by Alan Baker in Litter here: Review - "The English Strain" and "Bad Idea" by Robert Sheppard | Litter (littermagazine.com)

Hopefully, book three will be one day available as a separate book. It was completed just before Easter 2021. Abandon all sonnets!