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Thursday, May 06, 2021

ON THIS DAY 2020 I wrote a transposition of a John Thelwall sonnet for the WOW Festival in Liverpool

This is my last poem in this first batch of of OTD 2020... (I don't know whether there will be a second. I have been drawing attention to poems from British Standards that were published online and that escaped much notice at the time.)

ON THIS DAY 2020, as coronavirus ('Covid' seems to have been a later term, in general use, and even, more recently, 'CV19') and (what we didn't know was the first) lockdown trundled on, I wrote one of my last responses to it: one of the ‘14 Standards’, which uses a 'standard' Romantic sonnet for its own purposes. ‘The Vanity of National Grandeur’ was published on the WOW Festival, site, after having been commissioned by Victor Merriman as a response to the incarceal term 'lockdown'. My poem is here:

My account of this poem and ‘14 Standards’ as a whole may be read
 here, (with video):

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

But here’s the poem again, in case you missed it. It is a transposition of the poem named in its title.

The Vanity of National Grandeur by Citizen John Thelwall

It took Covid-19 to topple Bo’s giddy lust,
zigzagging virality of virility. The bong-gong
his near knell. He shifted Victory (over) Europe Day
around his post-Brexit holiday calendar. Adjust

in Time. The cheated hand waves the pennant to
We’re Meat Again as spitfires spit universal spores.
Labour is a sponge squeezed dry. Who was that Masked
Psilosopher? My curious hand shakes at his suffictions.

A consolation consul, he’s got a creamy tub of poesy
into which he stirs radicalism like jam. Frontline
is always somewhere/somebody else, hi-viz patrols
to broken train tracks. Thunder affords unsympathetic
background, scowling backdrop to his latest Skype.
His pocket awakes into rising alarm.

6th May 2020

'Psilosopher' and 'suffictions' are coinages of Coleridge, a friend of Thelwell. They can be worked out from the context, but the first is a false philosopher; the second is a baseless fiction used as a first term in a specious argument. (Think current Covid conspiracy theories!)

Here's the rest the online STANDARDS (sometimes with videos)

Pages: OTD 2020: a version of Horace Smith's 'Ozymandias' was written; it and other 'Standards' appear in The Cafe Review in the USA (

Pages: ON THIS DAY 2020 I wrote this lacuna-pocked poem as a version of one of Coleridge's sonnets (

Pages: ON THIS DAY 2020 I heard the ambulances in the lockdown silence and wove them into a Leigh Hunt sonnet (

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

British Standards is the third book of the ‘English Strain’ project. Pages: Robert Sheppard: My Poetics of the Sonnet in 'The English Strain' / excerpt from 'Idea's Mirror' in The Lincoln Review

Book One, The English Strain is described here (on a post that was written before it had 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:

Read the first review of those books together, by Alan Baker in Litter, here: Review - "The English Strain" and "Bad Idea" by Robert Sheppard | Litter (

One day, I hope, the third part, which is now complete, British Standards, will be available as a book. Until then, here is a post about its development: Pages: Transpositions of Hartley Coleridge: the end of British Standards (and of The English Strain project) (