Home Forums Poetry Challenge Week 1: Pace & Sound

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    • Kim Simpson
      Forum Administrator
      Post count: 42

      Mary Robinson [Oberon], ‘The Camp’

      Tents, marquees, and baggage waggons;
      Suttling-houses, beer in flagons;
      Drums and trumpets, singing, firing;
      Girls seducing, beaux admiring;
      Country lasses gay and smiling,
      City lads their hearts beguiling;
      Dusty roads, and horses frisky,
      Many an Eton Boy in whisky;
      Tax’d carts full of farmers’ daughters;
      Brutes condemn’d, and man who slaughters!
      Public-houses, booths, and castles,
      Belles of fashion, serving vassals;
      Lordly gen’rals fiercely staring,
      Weary soldiers, sighing, swearing!
      Petit-maitres always dressing,
      In the glass themselves caressing;
      Perfum’d, painted, patch’d, and blooming
      Ladies—manly airs assuming!
      Dowagers of fifty, simp’ring,
      Misses for their lovers whimp’ring;
      Husbands drill’d to household tameness;
      Dames heart sick of wedded sameness.
      Princes setting girls a-madding,
      Wives for ever fond of gadding;
      Princesses with lovely faces,
      Beauteous children of the Graces!
      Britain’s pride and virtue’s treasure,
      Fair and gracious beyond measure!
      Aid-de-camps and youthful pages,
      Prudes and vestals of all ages!
      Old coquets and matrons surly,
      Sounds of distant hurly-burly!
      Mingled voices, uncouth singing,
      Carts full laden, forage bringing;
      Sociables and horses weary,
      Houses warm, and dresses airy;
      Loads of fatten’d poultry; pleasure
      Serv’d (to nobles) without measure;
      Doxies, who the waggons follow;
      Beer, for thirsty hinds to swallow;
      Washerwomen, fruit-girls cheerful,
      Ancient ladies—chaste and fearful!!
      Tradesmen, leaving shops, and seeming
      More of war than profit dreaming;
      Martial sounds and braying asses,
      Noise, that ev’ry noise surpasses!
      All confusion, din, and riot,
      Nothing clean—and nothing quiet.


      We are looking for faced-paced poems with
      – a pseudonym
      – description of a scene packed with detail
      – rhyming couplets

      Watch this space for exercises to help get you started, and we look forward to reading your Robinson-inspired lines!

      Mary Robinson's Poems

    • Kim Simpson
      Forum Administrator
      Post count: 42

      TASK 1
      Like many who contributed poetry to magazines, Mary Robinson wrote under several pseudonyms: Tabitha Bramble, M.R., Bridget, and Oberon – each had a different character. Some writers used their initials, whilst others preferred to write as ‘a Gentleman of Quality’, or ‘a Young Lady’. Some chose classical names – Lysander, Lucretia, Eugenia, Amicus, whilst others used names that would indicate character (aptronymic) – Eatwell, Spendall. The eighteenth century itself is a rich source for names, with such splendours as Clotworthy Skeffington, Cloudesley Shovell, or one of Chawton’s own: Bullstrode Peachey.

      What would be your pseudonym of choice?

      Still undecided? Why not try our ‘create your own nom de plume’ activity, part of our Man Up! online exhibition: https://chawtonhouse.org/the-library/library-collections/man-up-online-exhibition/activities/

    • Miriam Al Jamil
      Post count: 17

      The New Real (work in progress)
      by Homerloner

      The hustle and bustle of the town
      A distant memory on lockdown,
      No work to progress my career,
      At home – I have to stay right here
      And make the most of online chat
      And eat more cake – I’m getting fat.
      Some comfort flapjacks, custard creams
      Before I face another screen.
      Invent! Create! Make the most –
      But after one more slice of toast.
      Calls from family, Sue and Joe,
      My hair’s a mess – I have to go!
      Shades of grey then here to stay,
      Forgot to brush my teeth today.
      I’m used to leggings now it seems,
      Tights and heels forgotten dreams.
      Deprived of real communication,
      The casual hug to express emotion.
      I wonder if I’ll make it through
      With money now a problem too.
      But on the bright side, have to say
      I found that lost file yesterday.
      Precious glimpse of open skies
      Surely a blessing in disguise.
      I won’t take for granted what I see –
      Small joys of life and feeling free.
      If we survive the gloom and stress
      We will make sure the NHS
      Are cherished for their dedication
      By us all, a grateful nation.

      • Kim Simpson
        Forum Administrator
        Post count: 42

        This is superb! Thank you for getting us started, “Homerloner”!

    • Lis Ricketts
      Post count: 17

      We must all see such days again
      by Rapunzel

      This is how it used to be, my child:
      People used to meet in crowds,
      To watch a match or sing out loud,
      They used to love to come together
      To gather outside in warmer weather,
      To meet together in one place,
      And greet each other and embrace,
      Or shake each other by the hand
      Before such dangerous deeds were banned.

      Oh, how delightful it was to be
      With those you love in grand party
      To laugh and dance and dine for free
      To sit in the sun with wine or tea,
      To gossip to eternity.

      On summer days, when came the sun
      Into our cars we all would run
      And chase each other down the ways
      Calling and laughing all the days,
      Until we reached the sunlit sea
      a wide beach of sand, and we were free
      to play, and swim and joy with friends
      to holiday there without end
      and in the evening to continue the cheer
      with tasty food and local beer.

      I remember other excitements too
      Going up to London, one or two
      together for a day in town.
      Dressed in our best, running up and down,
      Train and tube, crowded stairs
      People rushing everywhere
      Speed and hurry all around
      The noisy traffic’s relentless sound
      Caught up in the city’s ceaseless motion
      Enjoying all its loud commotion.

      We were heedless, reckless, without fear
      and will it be the same, my dear?
      Will we ever be so free
      And fearless in such company?
      Can we return to the joy of being
      together with so many and seeing
      our favourite team, our greatest band
      the beauties of our glorious land?
      To gather together to laugh and play
      With those we love, to celebrate the day
      of birthdays, weddings, a special date?
      Oh, don’t say this is all too late,
      And all is gone, that we must stay alone
      And do it all on phone
      Or internet…No, to such despair, I will not give in
      We must all see such days again.

      • Kim Simpson
        Forum Administrator
        Post count: 42

        A splendid contribution, Rapunzel – you certainly capture the worries we are all feeling right now. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Kim Simpson
      Forum Administrator
      Post count: 42

      TASK 2
      From pining for tube travel to eating too much cake on lockdown, we’ve had some superb poems about the modern moment so far. If you’re still seeking inspiration, why not visit past moments that fly in the face of social distancing measures, and try describing a famously busy painting in verse?

      Some of our favourites are:

      William Hogarth’s 1733 depiction of Southwark Fair,

      Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People (1830) (explained by Jonathan Jones),

      or Hieronymous Bosch’s nightmarish Garden of Earthly Delights (late 15th century) .

    • Cerys McKew
      Post count: 17

      The Festival
      By Amelia Opium (uses the more respectable nom de plume ‘Lavender Dursley’ when necessary).

      ‘If music be the food of love, play on.’

      Tents, Big Tops, and Giant Stages,
      Music mayhem for all ages;
      Elder rockers singing, dancing;
      Staggeringly Jagger’s prancing!
      All night DJs play til morning,
      In the woods, the groove is dawning;
      Revellers with naughty powder
      Wish the bass was even louder.
      Fresh-faced artists make their debuts
      Playing Pop, Psy Trance, the Blues,
      Disco, Reggae, Folk, Funky Sounds;
      The spiced line-up covers all grounds.
      Plenty of culture in the day:
      Arts and crafts, poetry, ballet,
      Comedy, and fire-eating,
      Perhaps even pink sheep bleating.
      Burdened by the stress of choosing?
      Maybe opt for camp chair boozing!
      Festive denizens dress with flair
      In tie-dye and ‘90s sportswear,
      Kangol hats and spangly dresses
      Worn with grungy unwashed tresses,
      Everyone’s faces glittery
      Hopefully it’s eco-friendly.
      The pitch-imperfect camping site
      Gets grottier each day and night,
      With squelchy mud that ruins shoes
      And pungent smells from portaloos.
      Thoughtless punters pile up litter
      Noodle Pots and cans of bitter;
      Their cigarette detritus will
      Make returning animals ill,
      For Party Land was once a farm,
      And rubbish causes creatures harm;
      But most recycle and are keen
      To try their hardest to be green.
      For the festival’s bourgeoisie
      There is the camp of luxury
      With double beds, pillows, duvets,
      Flushing toilets, showers, bidets!
      Those who cannot abide the dirt
      Choose to dwell in a pristine yurt.
      Though the camps may be divided
      Everybody is united
      In the boogieing wonderland,
      In mosh pits where it’s hard to stand,
      Crowds where people come together
      Wishing it could last forever.

      • Kim Simpson
        Forum Administrator
        Post count: 42

        We love this! Thank you Amelia Opium – we were right there at the festival with you, & we liked the environmental conscience too – Robinson often had a political subtext running through her poems.

    • Hannah
      Post count: 17

      The Applause
      By Hilawell Edgeworth

      Houses, gardens and roads,
      Bored people, croaking like old toads;
      Meandering left and meandering right;
      Captivated by a popular invisible fright;
      Their hands washing, hands clapping;
      Men and women all a flapping;
      Pans and pots, ringing and sounding;
      Society supporting, Government given hounding;
      Young and old, rich and poor;
      Inside their borders, behind their doors;
      Uniting at eight to express pride;
      In those who are hit by the harder tide;
      Ensuring that Britain remain floating;
      The rest feeling as though we are a boating;
      All chaos and all uncertainty;
      Confusion alike and shared perplexity;
      Some say, some day soon;
      Others are waiting, waiting for a clearer tune.

      • Kim Simpson
        Forum Administrator
        Post count: 42

        Thank you for capturing these fleeting moments of united applause, Hilawell, admist a sea of uncertainty – I think we will all remember them for years to come.

    • Celestina
      Post count: 17

      So I’ve been trying to post this for a couple of days now, alas to no avail. Here goes another try…

      The Pandemic
      By Celestina

      Carts and queues, people screaming,
      Supermarkets are a-brimming;
      Wheels are quickly set in motion,
      Manners lost in the commotion.
      Beans, milk, and toilet paper —
      Don’t need it now, but it’ll do for later.
      Lines are pushing up like weed:
      Stocking up is the pandemic creed.
      Many a detergent disappears,
      Many a soul is seized by fears;
      Sanitizer vanishes like dust
      Keeping clean hands is a must.
      Consumerism now is king,
      The world may be hanging on a string,
      Still everyone pursues their task,
      As long as they have donned a mask.
      Everyone is strictly observing isolation
      But when shopping, it is a congregation.
      A month has passed, but it feels like a year
      Somewhere a politician sheds a tear.
      Meanwhile April’s spring is smiling;
      Birds are chirping, cats are fighting;
      Trees are green, and flowers bloom,
      Yet life is sunk in an eternal gloom.
      Every mortal mind is contemplating:
      ‘When is quarantine terminating?’

      • Kim Simpson
        Forum Administrator
        Post count: 42

        Hurrah! This time, it worked. A super poem, Celestina, that definitely articulates the chaos of the supermarket during this time, & we like the pseudonym very much too. Thank you!

    • Manil
      Post count: 17

      Now that we approach the end of lockdown
      I couldn’t resist reminiscing the period.
      The period that took us back to another era
      Changed our lives overnight..
      We were no longer rushed
      I woke up at my leisure
      And stepped out
      To breath fresh air
      And listen to the chirping birds
      Or see the different coloured foliage
      With new interest and calmness
      Was always amazed with natures ways

      No body came to clean the house
      Or to cook meals
      Or to attend to other domestic chores
      They no longer seemed like chores
      It kept me occupied
      And I began to appreciate my chores
      My spotless kitchen
      Or the washroom
      That’s sparkling clean
      Crisply folded washing
      They gave me much pleasure
      No longer seemed like drudging chores

      I always had time to read a book
      Not one
      But three or four at a time
      One spiritual, to find my inner peace
      A subtle romance
      All composed of letters
      That kept me light headed
      And a classic that showed me
      The beauty of poetic language.
      The Choice’ written by
      a survivor of Second World War.
      They gave me much insight!
      Gave me hope
      and never stop to enthrall me

      This little digital device
      Provided me much entertainment
      Corona puzzles, brain teases
      Inspirational thoughts and videos
      Recipes, cross stitch work
      The list is endless
      How can I forget our chats
      All that kept our spirits high

      Now that we come to the end of curfew
      I wonder whether
      I want to get caught in that wave
      Or to stay back at home
      And begin a new chapter

      • Kim Simpson
        Forum Administrator
        Post count: 42

        Many thanks, Manil – wonderful to have a record of these bizarre times, and the ways we have adapted to a slower pace of life.

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