Friday, January 25, 2013


Swear to thy blind soul that I was thy will
Shakespeare Sonnet 136
it’s your unflinching desire
(I’m talking verbal here)
to force yourself into a bit of action
teasing my conscience with your thought-play
feigning a kind of existence
shadowing the orbit of the sun
your self-desire perhaps hidden by bravado
always with a tendency to overstatement -
even when your name’s extended to the full
you insist on short identity
when driving along half-mapped streets
you say you won’t lose the way
as long as we stay together
you keep persisting with directions
but compulsion seems to dissipate with the weather
it’s all inclination
like a soft wind merely bending the grass
never the breaking storm
it’s just an attitude thing with you
the self-expression of true nature
Shakespeare didn’t mince his words
he loved to play (all acting apart)
and you know it’s always fixed
when written down and announced
there’s no choice then, ask any lawyer
the trouble is, it’s so often ill-conceived
with an ending that’s just a little sick
but then I guess we all have to pay one way or another -
perhaps the Japanese are right
knowing that compromise defines our lives

Richard Scutter 15 September 2012

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Poetry and the brain

Poetry promotes deeper thought … poetry promotes brain activity … 

In relation to ‘the classics’ this was put to the test at Liverpool University …from an Internet article -

PUT down those self-help books, ditch the trashy novels and read the greatest writers in the English language if you need a lift. The works of Shakespeare and Wordsworth are ''rocket-boosters'' to the brain and better therapy than self-improvement guides, researchers have discovered.

Academics at Liverpool University found that reading the works of the Bard and other classical writers had a beneficial effect on the mind, by catching the reader's attention and triggering moments of self-reflection.

Using scanners, they monitored the brain activity of volunteers as they read pieces by Shakespeare, Wordsworth, T.S. Eliot and others. They then ''translated'' the texts into more ''straightforward'', modern language and again monitored the readers' brains as they read the words. Scans showed that the more ''challenging'' prose and poetry set off far more electrical activity in the brain.

See the full article via this link 

The poetry of E. E. Cummings is always a challenge here is a link to one of his poems. ... If everything happens that can't be done ... the title itself needing thought.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Exploring Ozymandias

The following is Shelley’s famous poem Ozymandias …


I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said - “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desart … near them on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Shelley (1792 – 1822)

Largest statue .. Ozymandias was the Greek name for Ramses II of Egypt

Antique … old and often valuable, of interest to collectors, and characteristic of a period and style of manufacture

 … the hand that mocked … the sculptor in imitating and deriding the sculptured passions … the heart that fed … the King’s which has ‘fed’ his passions

Rhyme structure … abab cded feghgh

This is commonly regarded as a sonnet … however because of the unusual rhyme structure it sometimes regarded as a sonnet-stanza … it is a great poem and one often included in anthologies … why is this so?

Perhaps because of the comparison between the exploits of a great man when viewed against time and nature – I am reminded of another great poem in this respect – ‘man may come and man may go but I go on forever’. And of course ‘the sands of time’ has been overdone with all those footprints taking place – perhaps we can blame Shelley for starting the drift. I rather like the fact that although Ozymandias has fallen by the wayside his words still remain – the poem highlighting the power of words to survive. At any rate a timeless poem if you forgive the pun.

What is eternal and … will your voice be lost in the sands of time … what words would you like to see on your headstone … and how would you like to be remembered?

My poetic response -


I am I, I am
I am Ozie and a man
I am, I am, an Ozie am
King of Kings I am I am 

I also am you man I am
I also am you woman am
I am the you, you see -
the I that is the you in me

© Richard Scutter 11 February 2008

Monday, January 7, 2013

Why be interested in poetry

Why involve yourself with poetry …

First and foremost poetry deals with words and like it or not words will always be part of your life.

We use words in many ways but primarily to communicate with others and so too with poetry. So one reason for looking at poetry is simply to see how words have been used by others to say something about their lives and thoughts and experiences and perhaps the things they want to share that are particularly important to them. Poetry only comes alive when a reader takes those first steps into the word-world of the poet and when this happens chances are the reader will broaden his or her own life.

By looking at the words of others … especially poetry where words are constructed into a concentrated form of expression … we can expand the way we use words ourselves and how we communicate with others … apart from having an insight into the life of another.

And of course poetry can entertain, educate.

The first poem I can remember hearing was from my primary school days. This was …


Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in silver feathered slee
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.

By Walter de la Mare

It was the first time that I thought of an inanimate object as a person. The moon became a person beaming silver into everything she saw as she looked at the countryside. The shadowy onomatopoeia feeling invoked by the teacher when she read the poem was captivitating.

Note ... And moveless fish - should it be motionless fish - or is moveless intended because of the lack of light ... moveless is not in the dictionary - does this matter?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Looking at some Longfellow Lines

A friend sent me the following lines from Longfellow – apparently his Mother used to sing these lines in the family kitchen when he was a child -

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints that, perhaps another,

Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

If these words were sung today how would people react – what would be the objections given the sensitivities of today.

Before doing this let’s look at the lines and give some interpretation –

S1 – apparently ‘great’ men are a fine example and we can look to them to enrich our lives – to the extent that we will be remembered long after our departure. Sublime being the personal goal – a popular word at the time these lines were written

Sublime = so awe-inspiringly beautiful as to seem almost heavenly.

S2 – and if we do follow and so enrich our lives when we are long gone we may in turn be regarded as ‘great’ and others may look to us to take heart when they are in the storm of life.

Looking at the sensitivity of today –

S1 - Great men = sexist and elitist – and who are the great – presumably those in the public eye that have been labelled great … so can we find more appropriate language, for example –

Look to those that are inspirational so we can become likewise that when we are long departed we too will be remembered.

S2 – the occupation chosen is sexist and not relevant to today … so what occupation would you choose? The occupation is not that important the shipwrecked nature of a doomed life is mort to the point … so perhaps all we need to say is something like … and maybe someone in despair will look to you and take heart.

So the two stanzas could reduce to the following prose…

Look to the lives of the inspirational that you may become likewise that when you are long departed you too will be remembered and maybe someone in despair will look to you and take heart.

This may be more acceptable language … but it is not very inspiring… not exactly poetic and not a song or something memorable! So perhaps the next step is to transform these words and thoughts into a poetic voice. So if you are feeling creative - go for it.

Here is my response to these Longfellow’s lines -

inspiring words
be inspired by the inspirational!
live by their ever-living example
that in your own life
you too may become inspirational!

and maybe somewhere someone in need
will be inspired likewise by your life
that you may be alive
in the life of another

Richard Scutter