Suddenly It’s Spring

Two Daffodils

So where have I been all this month? I’ve been here. I’ve been quite busy and active – it must be the longer days or something. Let me bring you up to tortoise speed.

Work continues. Volunteering at the museum continues to be fun. For the last couple of sessions, I’ve been cataloguing Roman coins. Rather amazed to be handling these things, around 2000 years old. Some of the faces are very worn and corroded, others suprisingly clear and sharp. Trajan, with his column on the other side, Constantine I, Crispus,…

I’m not going to Eastercon this year, the annual Science Fiction convention, but I have been getting some artwork done for the artshow, and getting that off in the post to Dave T, my amazing agent. This picture took forever to get from the idea to the second-draft stage, as I was trying to overcomplicate it. Eventually I got rid of the distractions and it worked. (This is a very poor scan, sorry.)
Space Walkies mini

The guitar continues to amuse me. My fingertips are gradually building up pads again, the chords are getting cleaner. Although I was sorry to find that I had (as I suspected) given away all my best music books, I can usually manage to track down anything I want to play on the web. The lyrics are often not quite right, and the chords a bit off in places, but that just gives me the added challenge of getting the tune playable. I enjoy this. My repertoire has expanded a lot, running from “Daisy Bell” to Ralph McTell’s rich “You Well-Meaning Brought Me Here”. All done in my own strange style, with no pretensions of skill and no apologies to anyone.

A touch of spring cleaning has been going on at the Tortoise Loft. Something it badly needed. A lot more work still left to do, but at least it’s reasonably shipshape again. Or flatshaped.

Some weeks ago, I finally took the plunge and joined Facebook. There seemed to be a flurry of joining among my friends just then, and I tagged along. After the initial period of bewilderment and fascination: linking up with people, finding out how to post comments and how to turn off those annoying posts about games and quizzes, I seem to have settled in there.

But it doesn’t have the same appeal as Flickr, mainly because it’s all so very ‘instant’. Comments can continue happily on a Flickr thread for months, but once a Facebook post has passed off the front page, there’s no real incentive for further comment, and it’s unlikely to be noticed by anyone who missed it originally. A sign of the age of instant gratification, the ‘Now Generation’. The blog remains a better place for slower thoughts which need rumination and writing at length. Facebook is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

But as a way of sparking ideas, it does have some value. I followed a link from a post by Graham Higgins to this poem by the American poet Wallace Stevens: Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.  I woke up this morning with the urge to pastiche it in my head. As the comments on the poem had dropped out of site in the Facebook rush, the result was sent by email. Graham asked me to post it here, so here it is. Presented with some trepidation, as it is surely one of many people’s favourite pieces, and doesn’t deserve what I’ve done to it.

Extracts from “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Poet”
With apologies to Wallace Stevens
Who merely provided an irresistible Target.

Among twenty sheets of foolscap,
The only moving thing
Was the pen of the Poet

I was of three minds,
Like an envelope
In which there are three Poems.

The mind and the paper
Are blank
The mind and the paper and the poem
Are blank

Critics fill the long columns
With barbaric comments.
The palimpsest of the Poem
Crossed out, much rewritten.
The writer
Traces in the scribbles
An indecipherable word.

Oh thin men of Literature
Why wish for the Golden Treasury of Palgrave?
Do you not see how the Poet
Titillates the minds
Of the women about you?

I know funny accents
And ludic, international rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the pen of my aunt is involved
In what I write.

He flew through Wolverhampton
In a cream envelope.
Once a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The jumble of his outpourings
For Poems.

It was evening all afternoon,
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
He put that Beatles album on, again,
And stopped writing.

The missing stanzas are left as an exercise for the student. Feel free to join in, post improvements and re-writes.


5 Responses to “Suddenly It’s Spring”

  1. xii
    The pencil is moving
    The Poet must be writing.

    It was editing, all afternoon
    It was turgid
    And it was going to be turgid
    The Poet sat
    In tattered iambs.

  2. suetortoise Says:

    Thank you. xiii(b) is a great improvement on mine.

  3. The temptation to go on is virtually irresistable. I’ve always revered this particular poem and wished that Wallace Stevens had recorded some of his work because so much of it sounds like it has a particular voice and accent. However, bless yer irreverence, ma’am, Paraphrasing Stevens has become a useful game to pass time.

  4. … oh, plus I had assumed that more readers would want to play, so two entries would probably be e-tactful-nough.

  5. suetortoise Says:

    There are times when we seem to be each other’s sole comment-makers. One keeps hoping there’s other intelligent life out there….

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