Wednesday 23 January 2013

The Unfortunate Poet

“Oh Exmoor! where the wild horses roam
Ungulate, elegant and free!”
                                    (from N. Swift: A Tour of Britain)

Algernon Swift’s cousin, Nigel, is a poet whose poetry has the habit of leading him down some unfortunate cul-de-sacs.  To take a few examples from his poem on the restorative powers of Nature:

And wandering by the lake it seems to me
That all things in the world we love – dear rocks!
Dear trees! Dear rocks and trees and oh! ye clouds! –
Have in the human mind their images
Much like as in this lake, by which I stand
Reflecting ...


... Then by my thoughts only pursued
I wander like a deer upon the heath
And there at length I ruminate ... *

Now Nigel has embarked on a tour of Britain, with the intention to write a short poem about each place he visits.  His first stop is on Exmoor, where he encounters some of its famous wild ponies (“their wild hair tossing in the wind for the mane part”) but the change of scene has not improved his poetry:

Never will custom’s cruel bridle
strangulate the free and noble ungulate
of this moor.  Here, unfettered by the constraints of man,
these horses bear witness to their true natures
and, free to foot the wind, act only as behooves them ...


More and, no doubt, worse will follow ...

1 comment:

Hawker's Pot said...

* Admission: This joke was stolen from Cowper's poem The Task ("I was a stricken deer ...")