A Poem for National Poetry
Day, October 8th
Poets in Residence
The Head was ambitious and
A big man, efficient, and proud of his school.
At the start of the term, as he sorted his
The item of mail that intrigued him the most
Was a piece puffing National Poetry Day,
Including a list of the poets who'd stay
And workshop and somehow persuade the whole
That poets were groovy and poems were cool.
"Here's status," the Head
thought. "It's not to be missed."
The one problem, though, was the names on
Though doubtless they wrote quite
Not one of them, frankly, was famous
His school deserved more; his ambition took
And so he decided to do his own thing.
With his usual flair, and with chutzpah
He invited the whole English canon to
Geoffrey Chaucer came first, on an equable
And Spenser, and Marlowe, and Shakespeare,
(Who was grabbed by the teachers of
"Do come and persuade the Year Nines
you're not boring.")
Keats arrived coughing, Kipling marched
Matthew Arnold began to inspect the school
Which delighted the Head, who with pride
Showed the bards of the ages today's education.
Vaughan was ecstatic, but Clough was more
Dowson puked up in a litter receptacle.
Coleridge sneaked off to discover the rates
Of an unshaven person outside the school gates;
Soon he'd sunk in a private and picturesque
Auden was ogling the basketball team.
Plath lectured the girls: "Get ahead!
Algernon Swinburne cried: "Bring back
Dylan Thomas soon found the heads
cupboard of booze,
And Swift was disdainfully sniffing the
And then the Head twigged, with a horrified
That something had sparked a Romantic revolt.
Shelley'd gathered the students out in the
And roused them to rise against school,
Head, and God.
Byron soon joined him, and started to
He showed his best profile, and quoted from Greek.
The bards of the thirties were equally Red,
And Milton explained how to chop off a
Decadents undermined all the foundations.
Surrealists threw lobsters and rancid
Pre-Raphaelites attacked the technology
And the First World War poets trudged off
to their dooms,
Rupert Brooke at their head quite amazingly
Owen decrying the pain and the pity.
Sidney with gallantry led a great charge in
(Tennyson cheering them on from the margin)
The Deputy Head, who was rather a dope,
Got precisely impaled on a couplet by Pope
(Who, while far from Romantic, was never
To run from a fight or keep out of a
Then the whole solid edifice started to
At the sound of prophetical blastings from
Soon the School was destroyed. Eliot paced
through the waste,
And reflected with sorrow and learning and
Which he fused in a poem, an excellent
Though rather obscure and extremely
He gave this to the Head, who just threw it
As he knelt by the wreck of his school, and
Salty tears that went fizz as they hit the
He said words that I'd better imply by mere
"-------- Poets! -------- Poetry -
rhyme and free verse!
Let them wilt in the face of a Headmaster's
"Let poetry wither! How sweet it would
If all of the world were as normal as me!"
If you've any comments on his poem, George Simmers would
be pleased to hear from you.