cover size 210 x 148 mm (A5)
A Matter of Temperature Jean Pooley
Loneliness Ian E Reed
Tomorrow' Notebook Jean Pooley
The Headache Fran Hazelton
Success Story Bill Eburn
Racial Prejudice Day Paul St Vincent
The Man who moved Mountains Frank Parker
Quebrada Martyn Handley
After Hearing a Radio Programme on the German
Sailors' Revolt in 1918 at Kiel and Wilhelmshaven Isabel Baker
If Les Barker
For Desmond Trotter David Kessell
Self View Pat Arrowsmith
Someone's Worn this Thing Before Roger Mitchell
The Parting Vivien Leslie
The Day the Tory Lights Went Out Keith Armstrong
Dic Robert King
Poet at Work Bill Eburn
Durch den Kamin J O Broonlea
The Irreconcilable. Bill Eburn
A Sheffield Woman looks at Hugh McDiarmid Frances Moore
Rainbow J O Broonlea
In Defence of T.S. Eliot Bill Eburn
The Road to Baracoa Connie M Ford
Do we date
the advent of Capitalism from the 14th century when wage relations began to
replace feudal forms of service? Or from the growing tendency of a later century
for sheeprearing for a woollen industry to oust subsistence crop growing
agriculture? Or from the transfer of monastic lands in the sixteenth century
into a new landowning class's hands? Do we date the political arrival of
capitalist power from the civil war of 1640 or from the glorious revolution of
1655 or from the culmination in 1832 of political changes triggered off by the
astonishing industrial and agricultural development of the eighteenth century?
debating points to be argued out by historians, and will have answers determined
by the content given to the term Capitalism itself. But all will agree that
Capitalism did not spring from its feudal matrix as Pallas Athene fullarmed from
the head of Zeus, but rather that like the equally immortal Topsy she growed.
somewhat profound thoughts of mine are occasioned by the discussion of the issue
of Proletarian Literature which a respected friend of mine has been recently
examining. A proletarian literature, he deduces, can only arise after the
proletarian revolution, and the citations, especially from Marx, about the
changes in the superstructure following changes in the economic base of society,
are very weighty. But now, the questions posed in my first paragraph may seem to
be important and not merely rhetorical questions.
If the phases
of capitalism's rise, maturity and decline cover a period of six centuries, will
it surprise anyone that from Wat Tyler, More, Winstanley, Blake, Shelley, the
Chartist writers of the 19th century, the anti-war poets of world war I, and the
major poetic influences of the thirties, Arden, Day, Lewis, Spender, the
dominant bourgeois voices should have been accompanied, sometimes invaded, by a
growing army of writers challenging the current dominant ruling class values?
that the chicken will emerge out of the egg without carrying with it some of the
egg's contents on which it was nurtured, to imagine a proletarian literature cut
off from all associations with the past is to misunderstand what literature is
as well as what the proletariat is. A socialist culture will necessarily carry
with it, embody into itself all that culture bequeathed it by previous
In the very
prisonhouse of capitalism itself, socialist culture will arise necessarily using
the forms history has put into its hands. The break between capitalist culture
and proletarian culture is seen in a revaluation of the human content, in the
outlook, the ethos, of a new class, a class proceeding over one epoch to take
its historical place as the controller of its destiny, and then proceeding to
fashion a society without classes.
culture won't suddenly begin after the revolution, though it will then much more
rapidly grow. It is in every beginning made in the course of the conflict of
classes within capitalism that proletarian writing plays its part in creating
the conditions for the victory of socialism.
thing to say at this moment to workers seeking to express themselves, to middle
class and bourgeois writers aware of and anxious to take the proletarian side in
the conflicts of the day in the fields of literature and drama, and other arts
is not: "it can't be done, you are backing a loser, wait till the revolution" -
but "feel confident, pick up your half brick, and throw it," confident that as
millions are being drawn into struggle, you too can play a useful role now.
Historians and Doctors of Philosophy in years to come will estimate your
contribution, objectively. it is important you can see a place for yourself in
the demo now.
A MATTER OF TEMPERATURE
I once was told how cold it is out there,
how freezing the temperature,
you'll need iron fingered gloves
abrasive boots, a mask to wear they said,
you'll need your fags and gum,
a cool stare of indifference
against frozen principles.
It's not just hard that world of theirs
in which we all must race,
it's lonely sterile, filled with fear
of speeds, tearing in pithy silence
down the passages of ears.
It's too long since we ran barefoot
made our castles out of sand
sang carols on the pavement
wore only woollen gloves against the cold,
try to understand, the mood is gone now
and we like you are here to share
life's last cold altitude.
Loneliness, is when a
man walks alone among an
army of philosophies
which seek to destroy him.
Loneliness is having
something to say
and no-one to say it to.
Loneliness, is the dusk
that brings with it, silence
Loneliness is the night
Loneliness, is being alive
in a metropolis of death
and somehow knowing that
part of you is dead.
Loneliness, is the
figure in the sunset
Loneliness, is the tick
of the clock and
That' s loneliness.
Ian E Reed
what is tomorrow but some dream,
some hope not always wise
some goddess in disguise in whose hand reposes
signed document or pact,
answers to future plans disclosed
exposed and verified?
Like a champagne bubble
she sits within my glass. I court her favours
but dare not reject her offerings.
I was there when they brought him in
drowned effigy of dignity
more like newborn kitten than a man.
They gave him the kiss of life
put him between white sheets,
"he may come round tomorrow," someone said,
when I saw him again they had covered up his head.
Bottomore realised, and accepted the fact, that he was awake and with
wakefulness there was again possessing his brain or head or mind an ache,
progressing stridently into shattered pain, which had originated the previous
day, manifested itself in dreams full of actions and drama, and now had him once
more, with consciousness, in its grasp. He would have
to leave the house surreptitiously if he was not to psychologically maul the
children and box his wife.
migraine? he asked himself, he would not succumb. Let others faint away in
darkened rooms; he would brave the elements, be strong, shake off the vice-like
grip clamped over the back of his head, down his neck and across his shoulders.
It was all in the mind. Eyestrain -
that was the explanation. Time to make an appointment with the optician. Dare
not mention it to Marjory. He had in his
memory store the tape of her "solicitous" whine.
Had he been
eating too much cheese? Was it sinus trouble? His teeth
were clenched together, top and bottom. His eyes felt yellow and black. He moved
eventually because a day at work was a preferable prospect to that of a day at
home with Marjory and the kids on school holidays. Jesus. He
could hardly stand up. Vertigo? If he blew his nose might that do the trick? He
felt as if his head was getting bigger and smaller, bigger and smaller.
As he dressed
he felt himself restraining himself from vomiting. It was like the worst sort of
hangover. Hadn't had a drink since Christmas. Bending to
tie his shoes he almost blacked out. Pass out. He could have passed out and if
he'd never come round again he wouldn't have cared. All the
symptoms of concussion? What had hit him? If he lay
down again, fully-clothed a) he'd have to take his shoes off; and b)... He sat
on the chair in the bedroom with his head in his hands. He could have cried.
bellowed coarsely. She'd never
hear down in the kitchen, radio on, kids yapping. Maybe there
were asprins in the cupboard in the bathroom. He raised
himself and in pain walked like Frankenstein's monster across the landing.
were on the windowsill and there was a clean tumbler close to them into the
bargain. They were the soluble kind. He waited for them to dissolve, sitting on
the lavatory, with its candlewick cover in yellowy-green. Every blow he'd ever
taken in a fight, every kick or collision in a football match, every time he'd
ever hurt himself by accident - the trace of the pain was now illuminated. His
body was wracked. He stood up
and felt bricks crashing around him. It was as if he had pushed his way through
a brick wall.
imagining things ..." he thought desperately and remembered it was one of the
old masters at his old school who had put the idea into his head when he'd said:
"If your work doesn't improve, Bottomly, I shall be down on you like a ton of
understood, understood” -what the fuck could geezers like that old burk
understand? Never done a day's work in their lives.
coming down?" said Marjory through the bathroom door.
"No-I have to
yourself." She closed the bedroom door.
"I don't want
"Are the kids
There was a
monsters, Arn…”After he'd left they asked their mother if he was in a bad mood.
No, she replied, he just had a bit of a headache. The Janice girl at work was
probably giving it to him, with her short skirts and tight jeans and skinny,
clinging sweaters over a pair of big boobs. And she was as cheeky as hell. What
was the point of hoisting yourself up by your bootstraps out of the shop-floor
class of people just to have some sexy bint giving you lip day in day out all
day long? Exerting his authority, that was the difficult part. That was what
being a manager was all about. He'd made it; made it into a trainee managership
with full credit to Marjory for her help and hints and support and
encouragement. Now he was on the receiving end of the hostile facial expressions
which in his younger days he himself had unconsciously doled out so generously.
He was the man in the grey suit among the girls in turquoise and navy overalls
in the machine-room. Okay, so he hadn't had the education or the cushy
upbringing which flash Joe MacIntyre exhibited so nonchalantly. He was learning,
though, he was learning. Learning to be tough. Learning to be hard. Fair enough,
so you felt sympathy when someone had to get the push; but if a woman couldn't
do the job she had to go.
Do the job,
do the job. Sales figures. He had to work on them today. Stir it up in the
travellers' section. Get them at each others' throats.
"Flip the lid
..." that was an expression Janice was always using. It used to be that whenever
he walked into the general office she'd been "entertaining" the other two clerks
who'd be sitting leaning on their machines. So he'd had her moved into his
office. Keep an eye on her. He usually worked late doing dictation so there was
plenty for her to do first thing in the morning. Little bitch. Some release
was the day a week at College. Advancing himself. Getting qualified. City &
Guild. Tailoring and Design.
Czechoslovakia you say?" the old fogey lecturer had asked kindly with reference
to competition in the clothing industry. They didn't have labour troubles over
there. It was alright for them. No unions.
"Ah well of
course there are unions in these Eastern European countries," he rambled on,
"but they do operate on a very different basis, in a very different manner, or
mean?" asked the Irish fellow.
at the almost life-size illustrations on the wall of the muscle structure of the
human body. And there was the skeleton which hadn't moved in all the four years
he'd been sitting in this classroom week after week after week.
"That is the
question of our times," the teacher was saying, in his corduroy suit. Bloody
cheek, really, turning up to lecture Textile Design students wearing a perishing
pair of Levis. Useless load of crap he came out with anyway. What was the point
of going through all that business about Lebanon and Cyprus and Angola and
are working eleven hours a day and their equipment's all out of date ..." Arnold
had to say something to have a go at the flabby socialism which pissed him off
so much. where had this geezer 's smart ideas got him? Boring people to death in
a Tech. What experience did he have of the real world? Making people
wearing a fluffy pink sweater. Arnold's chest tightened at the sight of her
Mr. Bottomore, I didn't know you were in." She put into her handbag the bits and
pieces of equipment she had been using to paint her face. "Actually, I was
having a bit of difficulty following your dictation. It's not very good." She despised
his big-headedness, the way he was getting too big for his boots. It was
pathetic the way he arselicked to Joe MacIntyre just because Joe was the son of
the Chairman of the Board of Directors. And who was Arnold Bottomore? A creep
who'd wheedled his way into the trainee manager's office after five years as an
aggressive salesman. Cleverdick. Janice knew for a fact that when he'd started
at Prosser and Clark's it had been a toss-up whether he'd go into the warehouse
or be sent out doing a bit of selling. Now look at him. Putting on a stern face
to try and intimidate her. Thick idiot. She picked a piece of imaginary fluff
from the bust of her pull-over.
listen to it for me please.."
It was hell;
it was hell - Arnold knew it was hell. If he died, however, Marjory and the kids
would be well-provided for. The monthly cheque, the security, being on the other
side of the line. That's what counted; that's what was important. He was proud
to put in the effort to live within his means. It just needled him to think of
all those car workers earning £90 a week.
"Here you are
Mr. Bottomore ..." she said, her crutch at his face level as he knelt getting
ledgers from the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet and she placed his tea on
top of it.
biscuits today ... for some people"
He knew he
could trip her up. He knew he could bring her down. He would, one of these days,
union or no bloody union.
Senior had made it quite clear to the management side that loyalty to the firm
was the key thing in these days of economic recession. Inevitably Prosser and
Clark's had had to give way to union demands to some extent (within the £6
limit, of course - the Social Contract must be adhered to), but the trainees
appreciated that a responsible position had to be adopted by people in
Leytonstone Marjory was counting her losses. An upbringing in army quarters in
Aden, training as a domestic science teacher and now the battle to maintain
suburban standards in a street "infested" with coloureds and Pakistanis.
It was a very
long time since Arnold had "had a wank" but there was no way round it. Either
that or he would strangle the girl.
under control?" quipped Joe MacIntyre blandly as he pissed and Arnold was
washing his hands. Surely he couldn't have guessed that Arnold had been more
than having a crap?
along ... motoring along," Arnold forced a grin.
out of my head I must admit..." MacIntyre zipped his fly.
“A bit early
in the day isn’t it…?”
drawled the heir to all he surveyed. "Yeah ... I'd better start looking like I'm
open the door for him. He'd spend an hour now in the Managing Director's Office
"reading" the Financial Times. Janice looked up at Arnold beseechingly as he
re-entered the Office.
"Oh Mr. Bottomore, I've done all the tapes you left for me
and I'm sorry to bother you but I was wondering if I could go home after lunch
I've got these terrible stomach cramps. You know ..."
"It happens a
bit often doesn't it?"
"I can't help
it Mr. Bottomore ..."
well ..." She turned
away from him.
"But I shall
make a note of this occasion and a record is going to be kept of all these odd
afternoons off. It's going to have to stop. We are considering that any time off
in future, even just part of a morning, or afternoon, is going to have to come
out of an annual leave
"Oh ... Mr.
Bottomore ..." she said, coyly. Going through her mind, however, was the
thought, "You just try it mate, and we'll be down on you
Alone in his
office that afternoon, picking his uncomfortable way through the individual
sales records, Arnold was overcome by several sneezes. So - it was flu after
all. Marjory would be able to tuck him up in bed with a hot lemon drink and
honey. He might even be able to get her to buy some whiskey. That'd be nice.
Marjory, that afternoon, was glancing at the copy of the Times which had been
delivered by mistake instead of the Daily Mail which was the Bottomore 's paper.
She was leaving it on the side for Arnold to take back to the shop and complain.
She wouldn't have minded doing it herself but she thought Arnold would prefer it
if she let him do it. One thing that puzzled her was an advertisement in the
small ads. for "Philippine servants. Experienced. All arrangements made." It was
surprising that people still had servants. Marjory had been led to believe that
all that had gone out with "Upstairs-Downstairs". She decided to make a lemon
meringue pie for tea while the children were watching "Jackanory".
"Turn it up" I said
to the kid
with the transistor,
and he did.
RACIAL PREJUDICE DAY
It makes you proud, yes
to be of this company.
We're not a thinking people,
admit it. Or a feeling
people: we take things
as they come. Perhaps you'll say,
we're dead. That's a mistake
of intellect. You see
We've got this great asset
(and it's truly national:
the Polls agree) of recognizing
the foreigner. The skin,
you know, helps. We don't like
him: what to do, what to do?
We can say the contrary
and hope to be disbelieved.
But there's a thing of honour,
our word. To keep our word
then, and be true to instinct
we must raise the argument
into metaphysics. Takes the mind
off Economic gloom and old
farts drowning in their tepid
morals pool. Yes, we've carved
an evolutionary handle
out of this race thing.
Paul St Vincent
THE MAN WHO MOVED MOUNTAINS
The man was
much admired. He moved mountains. He could lift them up and throw them. Many
miles they travelled and landed in the sea. Flattening fish and causing waves
that flooded fields.
The other man
who also admired him would try to drain the flooded fields to give air to the
And the first
man could run very fast. While the other man planted seeds and potatoes and told
stories to frightened children at night so they could go to sleep, he would be
training to keep fit and improve his time.
And at night
time he would explain, I have to relax. As he grew stronger the second man grew
weaker but hid his pain behind a smile and carried on.
But the time
came when the second man couldn't get out of bed. Everyone grumbled. No one made
breakfast. The fire in the kitchen was unlit. The fields untended.
The first man
lifted him up with one hand and set him on his feet. But he couldn't stand up.
he put him back in bed and sat down and cried.
Some 50 miles
north-east of Oporto, in the baked, rugged lands of Tras-os-Montes, lies the
small village of Quebrada.
A carpet of
soft grey cloud lay low over the valley that morning. The rain in the night had
left a sweet, sticky wetness clinging to much of the valley, and its floor
shimmered, like green taffeta, in the stiff morning breeze. The air was chilling
but succulently fresh. From behind the long, peaked line of mountains several
miles eastward the sun was now climbing. Already its watery glow half-filled the
now starless sky suspended as a vast inverted sea of gold above the waking
countryside. Here and there, where the cloud-cover was pierced or where the
clouds drifted apart, shafts of cool milky light fell like immense spotlights
onto the vines decking the shelving west slope. Serried in faultless symmetry,
these vines stood as unobtrusive shrines to the toil of their cultivators.
the valley, about three-quarters of the way up the steeper east slope, stood
Quebrada, a tight cluster of sixty or more squat, old-world houses, nestling
comfortably on the gentler part of the gradient and hemmed in on one side by a
small, circular grove of sun-gnarled olive trees that thinned out in pear-shape
towards the ridge, and on the other side by a smooth, sharply rising rocky
outcrop, almost overhanging the villa of the local latifundisto or landlord, for
whom the peasants laboured.
themselves were splashes of dirty-yellow, pale and sickly, though noticeably
fresher and less soiled around the village perimeter, where the newly married
sons and daughters had gone to live. Without exception all had the same rooftops
of faded red tile, slowly bleached by an often broiling sun. All wore the same
shrivelled wooden shutters on their sallow, haggard facades; now open with the
sun at their back but always closed by noon.
dimly lit dwellings the women, when they were not needed on the land, would pass
their colourless remaining hours. Such time would be spent in looking after the
children and in the kitchen, usually preparing the main meal of the day: often a
scanty dish of potatoes and favas, the popular large beans, or a greasy stew
laden with much vegetable and little meat. Now and again the women would boil up
some chourico, those small spiced sausages, cooked in blackened cauldrons over
an open hearth. These would be ravenously eaten at the end of day by their
menfolk, who would complain afterward that there had not been enough and would
ask, though they well knew the reason, why they did not have this more often.
The peasants' thirst was slaked usually with milk or the cheap coffee their
latifundisto, da Silva sold to them - at a profit. Only very occasionally did
they get to taste the vinho branco, the grapes for which they themselves grew
the land the men and often the women too would labour, sometimes from dawn to
dusk, just as their forefathers had done. Like beasts of burden under a burning
sky, the men with flesh like toughened hides and the women, exhausted with work
and childbearing would carefully tend the vines and gently pick the grapes at
harvest-time. They would labour usually in silence. There was little to be said.
It was almost eternal.
And above the
village and the land on the rocky ridge, watchful and solid, was the village
church of Sao Miguel. It stood out with importance. Its towering steeple was
fawn and dusty, holding the bell that tolled the angelus three times daily, with
a monotonous regularity that had not failed in centuries. The bell was sacred.
Just as its commanding peal marked with dignity the rites of day: the dawn when
the peasants sleepily rose to work, the noon when they rested to eat their small
meal, and the eventide when they left the fields for home to eat, make love and
sleep, so its peal marked the rites of life: birth, copulation and death. The
village bell presided over a simple, unchanging beauty and hid the secret
conflicts and oppressions of village life with its pure metallic thunder.
It was a
little after eight o'clock when the cloud broke. As the long purplish shadow it
cast peeled slowly back, the length of the valley was for the first time aflame
with sunlight. The solemn unveiling should have revealed the scores of peasants
enacting their daily ritual: labouring in the vineyards, or busying themselves
about the dozen or so outhouses surrounding the low, elegant villa of their
landlord, Senhor Amilcar Agostinho da Silva. For there was always much work to
be done, and Senhor da Silva, a strict and firm landlord, ensured that it was
done. He was the law in these parts and few chose to cross him.
strangely, no such scene opened up that morning. Not a peasant - man, woman or
child - was to be seen, either among the vines or on the valley-floor. The sole
activity, anywhere, seemed to be that of a couple of young hogs fighting
ravenously over the scraps of swill in an almost empty trough outside the villa
Silva and his portly, respectable wife, Maria da Silva, the youngest daughter of
a former Portuguese Ambassador to Spain, and their three sons were breakfasting
leisurely on the verandah. Cereals or grapefruit to begin, a copious main course
of fried sausages, eggs and bacon, some grilled tomatoes, and toast and
marmalade to follow. Breakfast would end with fresh orange juice for the sons
and a strong Brazilian coffee for the sophisticated palates of the Senhor and
his wife. Yes, the da Silvas did eat well and they did live well. They enjoyed
eating and living well. They ate and lived well because of the wealth the estate
brought thorn, wealth from the vines daily tended, slowly nurtured by the
work-hardened hands of the peasants of Quebrada. Yet the peasants saw none of
this wealth and good living for themselves; they knew only the squalor and
misery in which they lived in their hillside hovels, and the handful of escudos
that da Silva gave them out of the sale of the produce, after their work,
deadening, back-breaking work, on the land.
Yet on this
morning no peasant broke his back or wet his brow with sweat from working. Da
Silva was confused because he could see no one in the yard attending to the
usual tasks. It was already hot and da Silva was sweating as he gluttonously
swallowed his English breakfast. His wife ate more fastidiously, and the sons
ate in an orderly, serious fashion. Da Silva was troubled by the fact that no
one was working in the yard, and was determined to find out the cause of this
'peasant idleness' as soon as he had finished eating. He was angry but at the
same time afraid. Ever since Caetano's overthrow and exile, da Silva had been
bewildered and frightened by all the political changes that were happening in
the big towns and in many of the villages in the South. Workers and peasants
were evicting their employers and masters from their property and running their
own factories and farms. For da Silva this was outrageous and criminal. Often he
would speak to his obedient and attentive wife of all this and dismiss it as so
much nonsense, and on other occasions he would talk of the danger of Communism
and of Russia. Having eaten, da Silva got up from the table, irritated and
It was on the
eastern slope outside the village that the peasants had congregated in an almost
festive mood. Here, almost since dawn, they had been discussing the events in
Oporto and in Lisbon and the changes on neighbouring farms, in particular on a
large estate several miles to the west. News had been slow to filter through
after the revolution against fascism, and the peasants had remained unmoved by
and uncomprehending of the strange talk of liberty, equality, of an end to
fascism and exploitation and the building of socialism, which they sometimes
the day before of two young labourers from Sao Pedro, where the latifundisto had
been thrown out and his land seized by the whole community, had inspired many of
the young and middle-aged villagers in Quebrada who, though they hated da Silva
for his meanness, his greed and severity, had sullenly tolerated him, feeling
powerless to resist him and rarely considering life without him. These two young
men, brothers and the sons of a peasant family in Sao Pedro, had been workers in
Oporto at the time of the revolution, but had returned home, full of new ideas,
to help with the grape-harvest.
One of the
brothers was now speaking: "In Sao Pedro we used to have a bloke - a manager -
appointed by some Senhor Moneybags in Lisbon. Manager! All he did, was organise
us so as his boss in Lisbon could screw us for more profit. Yes, we all used to
accept that set-up. The Government and the Church, and our old parents too all
told us this was the proper way to live and things couldn't be otherwise."
elderly peasant, who had worked for the da Silva family for over forty years,
said, "But if we get rid of da Silva, who is going to run the farm?"
does your da Silva do? We kicked our manager out and made sure no sponger in
Lisbon wasn't going to live off our labour. Now we run things ourselves
-democratically." The final word was pronounced clearly and precisely.
A younger man
spoke, "Yes, we all of us here, who have been working the farm all our lives,
shall run the farm."
the other brother from Lao Pedro replied, "for the Government will help you,
like they helped us. They'll give you a tractor and fertilisers. They'll
guarantee you a fair price for your grapes, your wine and other produce. Pa
Silva won't take any rake-off. All that your labour produces will be for you to
sell and for you to enjoy."
much cheering and the whole mass of peasants seemed to be possessed by a new
spirit, a spirit of justice and hope.
are we going to do?" the brother asked when the cheering had subsided. "Shall we
kick out da Silva and take the land that he owns but on which you work? Are you
going to work for yourselves in the future, or be exploited by da Silva, who
grows fat while you sweat and toil?”
was rapidly made, but there was an uncertain shuffling of feet and nervous
mumblings of conversation amongst some of the peasants. Then one man cried out
and pointed down to the villa, a symbol of da Silva's robbery of the peasants.
The peasants began to move, at first with slowish and irresolute paces, but soon
with more confident, measured strides. Some now began to shout, while others
started to sing. Even the elderly peasants felt they had stood for the parasitic
da Silva too long and things ought to be different and more justly arranged. And
now they were surging forward with the same unity of purpose and elemental force
as the waves of the ocean rolling to break against a rocky shore. They poured
down the dusty track to the white villa, where da Silva now stood about to tour
flowed into the forecourt of the villa. Da Silva was sweating in his summer
suit. He mopped his brow, but though afraid, was determined to face this mob of
peasants. his pose in itself demanded that the peasants explain their
indiscipline. The peasants wavered visibly at the sight of da Silva, who was
holding a shot-gun. Da Silva was alone, but his presence imposed on the peasants
a silence of momentary diffidence.
do you want?" da Silva roared. "You know this laziness will cost you part of
your pay. Well, who's leading you in this stupidity? Come on. I won't have my
Da Silva' s
sense of authority remained with him. So far the sea of men which threatened to
drown him, had not panicked him. Would the peasants disperse? There was
murmuring in the crowd which seemed intimidated. Would they disperse? It was
then one of the brothers from Sao Pedro stepped forward.
"We want what
is ours. We want what is the work of our toil. We want the earth we till, the
vines we grow, the grapes we tend and pick. We want this land."
Da Silva was
bewildered and was like a man hearing a language he could not understand.
"You want my
land, the land that was my father's and his father's?" da Silva stammered
incredulously. "My land! You thieving, lazy scum." Da Silva's face was flushed
with exploding rage.
were growing impatient, their purpose now defined and affirmed. More murmuring
shook the whole mass of them like the first tremors of a violent earthquake. Da
Silva was beginning to feel pathetic, for he could do nothing. He could kill a
few peasants with his shot-gun, but there were more than two hundred of them and
they were determined. It was hopeless. He felt like a child, powerless and
insignificant. Yesterday he had owned unquestioned all this land with complete
certitude. Today these peasants whom he had allowed to earn a living from his
land, were demanding what had been his family's for centuries. But now all
certainties had vanished like a mist.
You can take the farm and the land for now. I am going. But I will return and
take back what is mine by law. You thieves. I will go to the Authorities and
they will drive you from my land. You shall never work for me again," da Silva
uttered barely articulately, unconscious of the truth of his last sentence.
What authorities? The law is made for the people now, not for exploiters and
oppressors," one of the brothers shouted in reply.
of the peasants were wandering around the farmbuildings and taking care of the
live-stock. Da Silva was beginning to feel redundant. What if the law would not
help him? His doubts grew. He spoke again to reassure himself.
"The law will
avenge me. Damn' you all. Justice will be done, and you'll suffer for this."
words served only to increase his impotent fury. In a spasm of rage he waved his
gun in the air. The gun went off. For a moment there was silence. The peasants
and da Silva were equally astounded. Then the mass of peasants moved forward,
pushing by da Silva. Someone grabbed the gun and da Silva was lost in the
torrent of men, a flood of spinning images and chaos.
While the da
Silvas packed their bags, the peasants began to get themselves organised to run
the farm and the lands that their work had cultivated for centuries, not for
another man's benefit, but for themselves. In a spirit of exuberance da Silva's
villa was declared the new village meeting house. While the peasants prepared a
new way of life, da Silva, his wife and sons crept away in their estate car.
Forces Movement gave the peasants of Quebrada a tractor and fertilisers in order
to help them modernise their farm and land. The peasants, with government
advice, started to form a wine-producing co-operative with neighbouring estates
that had also thrown their landlords out. Da Silva himself fled eastwards into
Spain, swearing that he would return and reclaim his land. The peasants of
Quebrada, however, have a surprise waiting for da Silva should he ever return -
an armed guard
AFTER HEARING A RADIO PROGRAMME ON THE GERMAN SAILORS' REVOLT
IN 1918 AT KIEL AND WILHEMSHAVEN
Salute to you, the unknown, nameless comrades of the past,
Who, not knowing if victory would be yours,
Took the great step over the precipice,
In mutinies and revolts;
Risking all in one courageous action.
When all is won, and we stand at last
Facing a future of peace and limitless advance;
Monuments should be built, sky high, pyramids of rock,
In memory of ordinary men; not statesmen,
not even political leaders;
But you who risked your lives, and often lost.
Let's make anew our list of saints;
Rename our maps to honour them:
And stand in solemn silence awhile
In memory of such.
So, the generations will not slip, care not sink back;
But, inspired by these, go forward without stop to reach the stars.
If I could awake
To see you waking; make
Your world a wonder;
To see the sun's rays falling
On gold-orbed banners, heavy with golden thread and brocaded silks
That wave high above the heads of your Imperial Cavalry; calling,
Proclaiming, my love.
And you would ride a sable stallion decked
In turquoise; half hidden in the long white folds
Of your robe, trimmed in ocean blue and autumn gold
You would ride proud before
Infantry in scarlet and blue,
High officials on she-mules too:
And cymbal-beating negroes from the Sudan.
You would hold court, be entertained
By snake-charmers and acrobats;
Give audience to little deputations
Of country jews and jewesses in tight white collars;
And groups of grey-dressed scholars.
We could eat spiced chicken,
Hot turkey, steaming;
Couscous, whole roast sheep and kebabs;
Almond pastries and sweet mint tea,
Sat around a fire of crackling juniper in the cold night; warmly you and me
And all around, glowworm glowing lanternlight through coloured glass;
And the soft murmur of a singer in the stillness.
There would be
Gifts from all the world;
Musical stuffed parakeets and kookaburras;
Bulldogs with false teeth
Immense cases of corsets from Kenya hidden underneath
Grand pianos; crates of champagne,
Barrel organs and hansom cabs
Macaw parrots and the claws of a million crabs.
You would converse with portrait painters,
Puppet Sultans, memsahibs of Malayan rubber men,
A German lion tamer, a French soda-water manufacturer, a man who thinks
He's Mickey Mouse,
A fireworks expert, Consuls of Great Powers; ambassadors
Of every Great European House
And a stout Spanish lady of Uncertain Age.
A Scottish piper alonely on your evening battlements;
A ring of zebras, emus, wapiti, hindu cattle;
Stags with their antlers locked in battle;
Antelope and llamas in the garden
With a curvature of flamingo..
And the pick of a Bird of Paradise shop;
And a tall, night-time stork on your chimney top.
If not, I'll see you on the bus sometimes.
I don't think they'd let all the others on.
Especially the emus,
Bus conductors get a bit stroppy about emus.
FOR DESMOND TROTTER
Will the Queen be hanging Desmond Trotter
Knight the freedom fighter?
We English it is well known are very fair,
Even on holiday we'll see justice done.
Horizon-drunk, ocean sat-upon, native-girl plucked:
Tyranny ripening in our minds like fruit.
Strung between the royal past and the plebeian future, a youth,
All black between the sea and sun.
Back home bitter we contemplate our rotting state;
Then to dreams silent as snow, sick with sweetness.
The moaning world outside like a great flowing tide
Staked-round with guns and secrecy, briars and blindness.
Death leaps from Dominica to Hackney keen as daylight;
I stumble out into my back-garden, where snowdrops swing
Black as the earth-trapped spring.
Desmond Trotter has since been reprieved due to a successful campaign.
This person seems effective:
controlled , articulate, unruffled;
able to pause and think, consider,
look pensive, give unhurried answers,
smile at times, even appear light-hearted
reply to every question in a reasoned manner.
I quite like her, quite approve –
we'd probably get on quite well together,
find a fair amount in common, have discussions,
respect each other, share a joke.
But surely we have met already?
There's something faintly, puzzlingly familiar
about her hair-style, general cast of features.
This person cannot be a complete stranger.
On second thoughts, she is - she just resembles
someone I once saw or met or knew,
noticed in a shop or on the underground.
"That went well, flowed smoothly, was provocative;
must have stimulated audience reaction.
Thank you very much indeed for coming.
It really was a lively, gripping interview..."
So that was it - was why I felt I'd met her:
that fluent, relaxed woman whose words I'd hung on,
wondering how she'd deal with every question,
impossibly, incredibly was me.
But I never realised that my cheeks were moulded
in that way when my mouth was talking;
that my forehead crinkled in that fashion
when I cogitated for a suitable or honest answer;
that my laugh was quite so clipped, abrupt
when I decided to appear amused.
She couldn't have been me, this woman
compact with firm ideas, collected thoughts;
frank, self-assured, high principled,
humorous, never at a loss for words.
For my thoughts are a knotty stretch of knitting,
loose, uneven, punctured with dropped stitches;
my face constructed of cracked cardboard;
my inside just a heavy vacuum.
I am all tangled and in bits, unfinished off.
At night the low wind menacing through my hollows
stirs a debris of rag shreds, torn paper,
bone sticks, flutter of dried leaves.
No, I was not that solid person on the screen.
SOMEONE’S WORN THIS THING BEFORE
Someone's worn this thing before
It's been places I've never been,
maybe next to me, eaten things
I'd never eat, fallen,
gotten up and moved on, whistling.
The paperclip in your pocket,
bugbite in the morning,
the stain on your clean pants,
hair on the mirror,
the life you find yourself living.
And here it is, a smile on its face,
waiting. Not long, but waiting.
It stands at the back door, hands
in its pockets, watching the sky.
Hurry, it says. Hurry.
Out of the dark, children.
Out of the night, day.
I won't be back for a long time,
but I will be.
Out of I don't know what, something.
I'll leave it in Nebraska, maybe.
If I ever pass through.
If I don't, look there anyway.
By the clump of grass, by the road, by the bright sky.
Folded, dusty and torn.
Jenny had been together from their first awesome day at school when Kathy had
wet herself and Jenny had been the only one who hadn't sniggered but quietly
handed Kathy her clean white hanky to dry her stinging legs with. Kathy had
responded by sharing her apple with Jenny at dinner time; their first secret,
hidden behind the janitor's coal bunker they had taken turns to leave
crimp-chiselled wedges in the white fruit and Jenny had been allowed the last
bite. Their friendship lasted all through their school years. Jenny had always
been brighter than Kathy but she was also more gentle and used her brightness
not as a stick to beat with but as a rod for Kathy to catch hold of while Jenny
pulled her up towards herself. On countless nights Jenny copied out her homework
twice, the second time in a well practised and near perfect imitation of Kathy's
writing style, reversing b and d every third time and crossing the Te with an
overwide stroke slanting from left to right. If anyone noticed they hadn't cared
and on the day they both left school, Kathy with a certificate to say she had
completed a secretarial course satisfactorily and Jenny with a large envelope
containing the details of her three O levels, they were hardly less close than
they had been at the end of their first day at school.
later they gawped at the factory together, eyes blinking in spontaneous rhythm
with the thud of the presses, ears trying to cope with a conglomerate sound that
did not repeat itself but hissed and banged into their ears in irregular
vibrating strokes, a thin high wail hard to pinpoint wove a tin thread through
the heavier sounds and every now and then, in a random lull in the main body of
the noise, the sound of human voices reached them and turned their heads towards
their speakers too late to catch what was said before the thick din reasserted
itself and made mutes of' them all. Kathy mimed to Jenny that the noise was
unbearable and Jenny pulled a sympathetic face. The instructress with them
intercepted the exchange and yelled over the noise, "You won't notice it after
an hour or two", and grinned at them. The girls shrugged. They toured the
factory floor in the wake of the instructress, looking where she pointed,
touching the components she handed them, watching in awe as they observed an
assembly bench where a row of girls sat working, passing metal plates that
bristled like grey porcupines with yellow and red lead for spines, up the row so
evenly that they took on the appearance of a strange group-being, a technical
animal with automated limbs each immersed in its own function and aware of its
relation to the whole so that no waver in a hand failed to be compensated for by
all the waiting hands ahead. The girls were fascinated and suddenly nervous of
the intricacies of what they were watching. Their fingers felt enormous, clumsy
and stiff as they watched the girl nearest to them twist, loop, prod and thread
a silver wire through a hole they could scarcely see, doing the job with one
hand while the other reached for the next plate. The instructress touched
Kathy's shoulder and had to yell again, it looks difficult, but you'll pick it
up sooner than you think." Kathy looked doubtful.
on to an area where the sound of the presses and solder baths was eclipsed by
series of short teeth-grinding electronic whoops and howls that rose and drooped
in arcs of sound , one falling low as another reached its hysterical peak, and
the girls could see the twisting wrists of the operators here as they coaxed the
sounds through their acrobatics by watching their progress on glimmering green
screens at eye-level, the physical curve matching the audial one before the
operators slapped the jig-release and tossed the units they were testing onto
the conveyor belt at their side. Jenny wanted to linger behind the screens. The
flashing images made to move and cross over themselves, sometimes collapsing
into fluorescent worms at the bottom of the screen (when, she noted the
offending plate would be discarded) excited her into curiosity. She asked the
instructress what was happening. "Alignment," the instructress said pulling her
away and onto another assembly bench, but Jenny's eyes stayed behind for the
rest of the tour, resting on the green fuzz around the alignment benches.
Back in the
training room the girls spent their first week learning to solder, sort, inspect
and code a nest of tiny components and leads. Jenny was slow and careful and
Kathy found herself able to hold and handle the small components with ease. In
no time, Kathy was whipping through whole boxes of' simple assembly work,
unafraid of the smouldering iron as she pressed its red tip onto the eyelets
before melting the solder wire into a sizzling drop of liquid over the eyelet
and lead and snipping the trailing end from the solid joint. Jenny envied her
friend her confidence and found herself constantly doubting the strength of her
own bubbled joints so much that she tested them too much and often snapped the
lead off before she was satisfied, and then had to begin again. All this was
noted by the instructress who had also noted the girls' closeness and was human
enough to seek work for them together. Remembering Jenny's interest in the
alignment benches, she rigged up a practice board in the training room and then
it was Jenny who fell to work with enthusiasm, relishing the many dials and
switches at her fingertips and learning their uses quickly. She found herself
understanding the strange sounds her equipment let forth so instinctively that
before her first day was out, she had learnt to detect the faltering, however
slight, in sound or visual curve that meant the unit was not working properly
and without the prickling doubts that had dogged her mechanical efforts. Kathy
wouldn't look at the equipment, far less touch it. She said the noise made her
wince and she was terrified of getting a shock from the humming machine. They
laughed together, happy about their happiness with the unfamiliar work and when
the instructress. arrived and told them they were to work on the same assembly
line) they hugged each other with pleasure.
separated by three operations on the line, something that did not displease
either of them because Kathy had hoped for an assembly job and Jenny had wanted
most of all to work on the electrical side which was what happened. They made
friends with the other girls and immersed themselves in the easy society of the
line and in their work, but breaks always found them together, exchanging proud
knowledge with one another and each admiring the other's new skill. They hardly
noticed that the rest of the line split into strictly segregated groups at
teatimes, the mechanical workers huddling at the front of the line and the
electrical workers at the rear, and there was no reason why the split should be
noticed for it was not a hostile separation but it was complete. Kathy and Jenny
went their own way and the small frustration of not being able to compare
appraisals of the quality of their work bothered them little at first. They
merely kept a tactical silence when the frequent discussions about the relative
merits of their kinds of work came up. The electrical girls made sneering
remarks about the "thickies" at the assembly stages, laughing at their greasy
overalls and calloused thumbs, and the mechanical girls affected to despise the
"fine ladies" who, as far as they could see, sat on their ample behinds all day
fiddling with buttons and not much else.
more threatening when there was trouble on the belt and targets were hard to
meet. Jenny could not stop herself from secretly agreeing that the number of
reject units had a lot to do with sloppy soldering and could do no more than
keep silent when Kathy boasted of a new higher target met with only that
morning, and say to herself that she knew what price was being paid for Kathy's
success. As the piles of rejects grew, the assembly workers began to grumble
that the alignment girls were being over-fussy - must be looking for promotion -
they had murmured in bad temper and Kathy had found herself annoyed at her
friend whose own pile of rejects was brimming over. At tea time, Kathy prodded
the jumbled units and said, "That won't help them keep their leads in, you know,
keeping them tossed about like that. No wonder they don't work when you get
them." Jenny had smarted under the remark but only murmured that she'd nowhere
else to stack them and there were rather a lot of them. Kathy had laughed and
gone back to her bench where she began furiously slotting, prodding and
soldering her work together, trying to throw off the feeling that Jenny's remark
had been against herself but there were only two of them doing the assembly work
that day and the other girl was an old hand at the work and just didn't make
mistakes often. Her ill temper stayed with her for for the first time she spent
her next break with the other mechanical girls, feeling guilty as she saw Jenny
looking for her and eventually eating her tea along, but she knew if she went to
her she would say something nasty and, she felt down to the tips of her clever
The bad spell
lasted for a week, not long as bad spells on assembly lines go, but enough to
snap the bond between the two girls completely. The unmet targets at the
electrical end of the belt had generated anger. Though the electrical boards
hummed and hissed through piles of units, the numbers going on up the belt as
passed units and the only ones to be counted, got fewer and fewer and as the
numbers fell and the pay with it, the girls started to twist and fidget with
frustration at the dead blanks on their screens. Jenny suffered it longer than
the rest of them and calmed them out of stopping work altogether until something
was done, but after the fourth unit in a row had refused to squeak into life
under her fingers, she joined the mobbing girls at the supervisor's desk and
demanded with them that the units be made properly or they would walk out. The
supervisor, well-seasoned in line arguments, made a gallant attempt to approach
the assembly girls tactfully, giving them a cheerful pep-talk mingled with
outrageously exaggerated praise before she asked, almost absently, if they would
please solder just a little bit more carefully. It backfired.
surrounded her like mobbing crows, diving in with sharp jibes and complaints
against the electrical girls who, they said, always blamed them for their own
mistakes. Flattened thumbs were shoved under her nose to show the hardness of
the work, one girl proffered a blistered finger, another a scorched hole in her
overall, while another dragged a box of assembled units and dropped it at her
feet, asking her to check with her that the leads were soldered and the joints
sound. The supervisor fell back before them, walking backwards with hands held
flat before her as if to ward their anger off and it was only the group of
electrical girls standing firm at the other end of the belt that halted her
said, as if they hadn't heard everything, their faces grim in the quiet before
another storm. "I'll get the foreman", the supervisor fled for a saviour and
left the two gangs facing each other. They began to exchange remarks among
themselves but in overloud voices so that their insults flew home to their
objects as intended. The normal job-jibes gave way to more personal ones very
soon afterwards, and Jenny was astounded to find herself in a sudden cool moment
in the heat of her temper, accusing Kathy of being a dimwit while Kathy taunted
her as a teacher's pet, Kathy's face livid and filled with what must have been
years of resentment which Jenny felt equalled in her own mind, the weight of
Kathy's demands on her. She was appalled at her own words. "Kathy, Kathy" she
said. "We shouldn't talk like this, it's only work. Come on, I'm sorry."
But Kathy was
still high on her release and pushed her away, and Jenny could feel in the rigid
arms something of the depth of the resentment that Kathy was feeling. Kathy
sneered, "Oh, just you get back to your machine, it's all you're fit for."
away and sat at her board, looking at the dials and knobs and switches that
seemed to be responsible for Kathy's anger. They were mute, lifeless, inanimate
until she, Jenny, should manipulate them, coax them and tease them into
performing their work. They pleased her, the little black buttons all in a row
and the pulsing line on the screen. Really, she thought, Kathy should have more
sense. It was a pity she didn't understand how important the work was, far more
important than her mechanical job, anyone could do that, even a monkey could do
it in time, but this called for judgement, appraisal, a little intellect and
well, Kathy had never been strong on that now, had she? Jenny flicked a switch
and began the series of checks over a fresh unit. The speaker crackled into
life, blipped, howled and then soared into a rising squeal. Jenny patted the
side of the machine affectionately.
LINE STOPPAGE BELT 546 MONDAY 3 PM – 3.30 PM.
IT WAS FOUND
THAT A BATCH OF LEAD
675 87 654 B4 HAD HAIRLINE BREAKS
INSIDE THE PLASTIC SLEEVING -
LEADING TO BREAKAGE WITH MINIMAL
HANDLING - THREE BATCHES SENT BACK
TO MAKERS FOR CREDIT - NEW ISSUE
RELEASED 3.30 PM. WORK RESTARTED
DITTO. FOREMAN REPORTS TROUBLE
THE DAY THE TORY LIGHTS WENT OUT
ted heath groping in the dark
his shaking hand
reaching for an exit from his self-sprung trap
the shaft - is blocked
'so this is what it's like to chivvy in the dark,
so this is what it's like to breathe in black silt
ted heath groping in the dark
his clammy hand
reaching for the door
reaching for walls
feeling only the chiselled-stone faces of miners
cats' eyes stabbing at him from the night
there is no daylight between these vaulted faces
their solid ranks are closed
ted heath groping in the dark
your only way out is to crawl
vomiting your last false promise as you go
(Richard Lewis) was hanged in Cardiff in 1831 for his part in the Merthyr Riots
of that year. His crime was "That he wounded a soldier of the King" - he denied
this with his last breath.About 50 years later in America there was a Welsh
speaking Welshman on his death-bed crying for a minister who could speak his
He told the
minister that it had been he who had wounded the soldier and not Dic Penderyn.
indeed been murdered by the State.
When they cut
Dic down from the scaffold his body was laid on a cart and they went through
Cardiff and the villages west looking for a church who would accept his body for
burial. No church would take him until they had travelled some thirty miles and
arrived at the town of Aberavon where the vicar of St. Mary's accepted Dic.
A POEM FROM NEATH ABBEY
Merthyr Mountain burned
A satanic fire through the night
Marking out the points for the men
To meet, to organise a fight against
Crayshaw's cry must be turned from
"Men must work for me for nought or die."
- to men must live and love their lives.
And was hated and watched with the eye of
A trout watching as he walked about
Crayshaw scowled; the troops marshalled;
Dic refused to obey their command ... the
Command from King!
In Welsh he spoke of injustice and children's
Hunger ... Is the King without food ... No, nor
will we be.
As a tower will not bend to the wind, Dic said,
it will crash with the weight of angry men
Storms rage and the still time lingers with
blood of the men who wanted food but were told
by the King's guns to lie still.
Dic Penderyn cried.
Dic said his hour would come when the men
Who filled those iron cuts would too be
Filled with bread.
King's command, see!
A trial he was given - mockery they
said and J.T. Price from Neath Abbey
Fought to save his life.
“Teach those men a lesson ... hand Penderyn
And they'll see that we won't stand for
This nonsense ... then work they will with no sound.
Cardiff, a sultry morning. Thunder in the
Air. People openly crying as they hanged
Dic who had started singing.
Towns shunned the man who had started the
workers' cause but onward went his friends
"til Aberavon said "They will."
Now under the lilt of the church, St. Mary's,
Aberavon, Wales, sits a small cross with
the words: Dic.
Hanged at Cardiff ... murdered!
The first Welsh working class martyr.
POET AT WORK
He sits frowning
pen in hand,
and from a distance
sees himself lean forward
trying to record
the message clearly received,
but only dimly understood.
DURCH DEN KAMIN
"We nivver knew nowt o' no gooins-on",
Ferswoor t'brant sackless grouwn-ups o' Dacko;
Bu' t' breath frac 'is lips hissed th'Horst Wessel song,
As dad tanned 'is brat's aree wi some whack-o:
“T’s a lie dost' yer, ut aw'r a Jew-baiter!"
Bu' t' childer'd a' known what they'r on abeawt
When these browtins-up o' Struwwelpeter
'ad warned they'd else stoke 'em up t'chimbley speawt.
brant, erect, upright.
Jone o' Broonlea
Men can manage
must have men,
so in the long run,
we must win.
A SHEFFIELD WOMAN LOOKS AT HUGH McDIARMID
Bonny bragging babbling bard
over apt to talk too hard,
in amongst the straw and chaff
corn falls out that pays the draff.
Garrulity's so much the mode
let's be thankful yours is good;
but, lumme lad, tha's o'er brash
wi' a' this swaggering male man trash.
Well I may, as poet, mock
this sort of little woman talk,
who as a woman knows the chore
that keeps such fellow on the floor
(while feeding, servicing my man
producing poetry where I can).
Witshud, stood i' t' rindlin' loane
Gawpin' yond'ly on mi own…
Wi t' lat' sunleet silin' low,
t' Wa'-stooans catch it gowden glow
Neaw t' rain's teemin's checkt it spate
t' Fell sheyns green 'gin t' welkin's slate
Reet aboon loups breet-hue merth:
t' Rainbow straddles ower t' yearth
- an' hid theer at it foot i' yon teawn eawt o' t' sect
ligs t' kipper heart o' gowd aw claspt to mine las' neet.
witshud, in leaky footwear ("wet-shod"); rindlin', flowing like a stream;
loane, lane; gawpin', gazing vacantly; y'ond(er)ly, abstractedly;
silin', streaming; welkin, sky; aboon, above; loups, leaps;
merth, abundance; kipper, loving amorous.
Jon O’ Broonlea
IN DEFENCE OF T.S. ELIOT1.
Whitfield had some hard things to say about TS. Eliot (Voices 6), and as these
found an echo at one of our meetings held in London to discuss Voices, I would
like to say something in reply.
(a) Eliot can
only be appreciated by someone with as good an education. True and false. Read
say "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" to a dozen people and ask them if it
is poetry. Most of them will say it is. Ask them what it means and they will
look blank. However, read "Khubla Khan" and you are likely to get the same
response. Coleridge would doubtless agree with the verdict for he believed that
poetry gives most pleasure when it is only generally and not perfectly
understood. Yet few would deny that he was one of the greats.
poetry has so many references that it can become like a Times Crossword Puzzle -
interesting, taxing but pointless. True again, but not wholly true. If I begin a
poem "From the troubles of the world! I turn to sex", some will recognize that I
am parodying "From the troubles of the world/I turn to ducks", and this
awareness adds a further dimension to the poem. But it is not essential. Anyone
who has enjoyed a foreign film without benefit of translation will know what I
has been preserved like a Ming Vase for all eternity - daring imitation or
improvement Technically at any rate this is not true. There have always been
rebels against artificiality. Wordsworth and Coleridge attempted to use the
language of common speech, but were bound by the existing conventions (regular
number of metrical feet per line etc). Following Whitman and the Imagists Eliot
established an oral poetry closely allied to speech in rhythm and in language.
For good or ill his influence has probably been more widespread than any other
poet in this century.
d) Art is of
its time - do we need this over indulgence in past expression - expressing what
has gone is dead? None of us writes poetry, or anything else for that matter,
entirely out of his own head. Each of us stands at the end of a long tradition.
Reference has been made to Whitman and the Imagists, but to trace the source it
would be necessary to return to Beowulf.
Tony seems to
recognise this when he says "reality has to be re-examined in the light of our
total experience which differs from generation to generation." (My emphasis).
expressed this very clearly:
(the poet) is not likely to know what is to be done unless he lives in what
is not merely the present, but the present moment of the past, unless he is
conscious, not of what is dead, but of what is already living."
(Or as his
friend Ezra Pound put it even more succinctly, "Nothing exists which isn't in
rapport with the past and the future.").
But as Alec
West observed Eliot lacked a true historic sense. "He dissociated tradition from
the struggle of the men who make it, and this was the cause of his limitation
and his decay as a critic and a poet."
2. There is
so much in Tony Whitfield's article I agree with. A self-styled "classicist in
literature, a royalist in politics, and an Anglo-Catholic in religion", Eliot's
poetry is not our poetry. But he could write. Like Coleridge he believed that
poetry can communicate before it is understood; that a poet convinces not by the
words he uses, but by the music he sets these words to. And in his literary
criticism' he was prepared to take us into his confidence and show how it was
3. As Tony
says, Eliot was a poet who wrote for poets. As poets we can learn from him. Not
to attempt to do so is to throw the baby away with the bath water.
Prose of T.S. Eliot" Faber paperback £1.95, or any library.
OF THE THIRTIES
a poem by
Arthur Clegg (Reality Press, 16
Street, London E.14). 15p.
beautiful, always interesting and sometimes deeply moving poem carries the
atmosphere of Cardiff's Tiger Bay in the '30s. We have asked A.D. Clegg for
permission to quote extensively from this poem in September's Voices.
THE ROAD TO BARACOA
In this small town
We were bred born and reared,
Here we wed strove and died,
For there was no road out of it.
The sea lapped and slapped at our feet
And the hills walled us in behind.
Foreigners came and went in their ships,
But for us there was no way out.
They all said there ought to be a road.
Some said there would soon be a road.
Batista raised a tax specially for this road
But still the hills held no way out for us.
Then Fidel Castro came.
They said he was different,
But how should we know?
Once he'd survived his battles
He might have been like all the others,
But he too said there ought to be a road.
Then, suddenly, it was being built.
It strode round the hills towards us,
And our young men climbed up to meet it.
There was noise and dust and machinery,
And strangers from Havana,
And slowly it wound its way down
Right into the town.
Now the buses come and go along it.
We leave and return at will.
There are teachers and doctors,
Musicians and politicians,
Coming and going just for us.
Women go to hospital on it
And bring back strong babies.
Youth goes to college on it
And brings back new ways.
O the wealth that flows
In and out like the tides,
As we give and take with all Cuba
Our fruit, our coffee, and our labour
For shoes, concrete, and guitars.
There is no end to the blessings of traffic
To and fro on our road.
So now we know that Fidel and his comrade. are different,
For they built our road.
Connie M. Ford