April 26, 2011

Man Friday: 25% Extra Large Easter Triptych

1. A Jolly Good Friday

Jesus was an Englishman,
The Son of Grace (W.G.)
Cured 99 limbs on the village green
And a leper before the Last Tea.

Jesus remained a gentleman
Though the crowd’s game wasn’t cricket,
Carried His cross with stiff upper lip
And was only politely anti-Semitic.

2. Easter Saturday: 0-1, 2-1, 2-2.

The team I follow is full of Jesses who think they’re God’s gift, diving Christians
and Daniels up against Lions

A voice in the faithless crowd calls “Judas”
As our transferred ex-Saviour applauds ex-fans.

Nil-one, man down, the game as dead
As a frozen church, the comeback beckons.

On thawing cold feet, we are glory glory singing
It’s all worth it, after all, and then it isn’t.

3. Sunday: Petering Out

Nailed upside down at dawn,
The cockerel crowing with the crowd,
I tried to speak up for You,
"Love Can Turn The World Around."

Gravel-voiced but choked
Out of a throat of clay
I threw my word of rock
Too hard, too hard, away.

Now across this sheer water,
A crystal light
Turns and returns
Upon memory's tide.

My father is fishing
Still waters at sunrise.
He turns and winks:
I fear no evil when he is with me.

What voice sounding sure
In the depths of my heart
Drowns the distant breaking
Of a shell's lost cry?

4. Easter Mundane

Nothing happens.
I don't feel a thing.
The rock doesn't roll.
The angels don't sing.

Good Friday isn't bad.
Saturday hangs on
A Sunday that rises
But not for long.

The hiker at the crossroads
Asks for directions
Down unbridled Ways
To non-consummations.

The cyclist’s windy map
Winds in endless rotation
Of his pre-booked, pre-cooked

The City get hammered.
I don't feel a thing.
The cock can't crow
And no angels sing.

Notes: This little sequence came out of the Unsunny Easter of 2003 originally. The only consistency with 2011 - and now 2013 - is my team's Easter form. It's an effort to do a modern version of the Renaissance Easter painting in which all the Jewish characters looked Italian, here a triptych. The impulse of 'Easter Mundane' is that post holiday void which is also the post-Christian void. I read an Easter Saturday 1972 poem (by Tom Leech, pictured) many years ago in which a crowd of pub-punters talk about a 'transferred' player who, the reader gradually twigs, is Jesus. The picture shows Tom earlier this year in India, one of the few holy lands I got to before him. 'Petering Out' fuses St Peter's story - he asked to be crucified upside down as contrition for that legendary denial - with a rare and precious memory of fishing with my father at Shearwater Lake near Longleat, Wilts, one Sunday morning about a hundred years ago.

April 21, 2011

One Man and His Masks at the Holt Summer Festival

One Man And His Masks Part Two; Arthur; Britain's Making gets its premiƩre at the Holt Summer Festival at noon on Monday 25 July at Gresham's Pre-Prep School. Just before going up for its run at the Fringe. Here's a shot of a rehearsal in the gardens of Ancyrian a mystical Celtic cottage in North West Norfolk, believed to have been once inhabited by the Celtic gods Ann and Cyril.

The show is Bardic storytelling with one man theatre, poetry, some posing with a toy sword and shield and a bit of Celtic drumming/ folky vocals. The invisible sword Excalibur - 'blade of lightning' - appears as does the invisible magical white stallion Hengroen on which Arthur rode to battle. It might look more like the groin of a chap in cricket whites stretched over a wheelchair to you but after all we're in Cervantes Don Quixote territory here. Bring your imagination because this is where most of this romance and Celtic legend is staged.

A Jolly Good Friday

Jesus was an Englishman,
The Son of Grace (W.G),
Cured ninety nine limbs on the village green
And a leper, before the Last Tea.

Jesus remained a gentleman
Though the crowd's game wasn't cricket,
Carried His cross with stiff upper lip
And was only politely anti-Semitic.

Here's wishing everyone a jolly Good Friday. I wrote this in 1982 not long after an Arvon writing course at Easter in Totleigh Barton in Devon (still a very fond memory) around the time I was doing readings at the Barge Semington in Gloucester. You had to fairly pithy or the good natured Gloucester crowd would tell you to pith off. It was published in 'Exile In His Own Country' (Bluechrome, 2006) though it never made it into the Church Times. I was young and naive and couldn't understand how Christianity could get to the pogroms from a Jewish Messiah born of Jewish parents with Jewish apostles. I am older and worldlier now and this sort of ingenuity no longer surprises me. Nevertheless, out of the mouths of babes...