The Poet of Bray
Back in the dear old thirties' days When politics was passion A harmless left-wing bard was I And so I grew in fashion: Although I never really joined The Party of the Masses I was most awfully chummy with The Proletarian classes. This is the course I'll always steer Until the stars grow dim, sir-- That howsoever taste may veer I'll be in the swim, sir. But as the tide of war swept on I turned Apocalyptic: With symbol, myth and archetype My verse grew crammed and cryptic: With New Romantic zeal I swore That Auden was a fake, sir, And found the mind of Nicky Moore More int'resting than Blake, sir. White Horsemen down New Roads had run But taste required improvement: I turned to greet the rising sun And so I joined the Movement! Glittering and ambiguous In villanelles I sported: With Dr. Leavis I concurred, And when he sneezed I snorted. But seeing that even John Wax might wane I left that one-way street, sir; I modified my style again, And now I am a Beat, sir: So very beat, my soul is beat Into a formless jelly: I set my verses now to jazz And read them on the telly. Perpetual non-conformist I-- And that's the way I'm staying-- The angriest young man alive (Although my hair is greying) And in my rage I'll not relent-- No, not one single minute-- Against the base Establishment (Until, of course, I'm in it). This is the course I'll always steer Until the stars grow dim, sir-- That howsoever taste may veer I'll be in the swim, sir.
From Selected Poems by John Heath-Stubbs. Reprinted by permission of David Higham Associates, Ltd. Copyright © 1990 by David Higham Associates, Ltd. All rights reserved.