Sunday, April 01, 2007

Parody on Alastair Reid's Scotland

I'm not going to post all my NaPoWriMo poems on this blog. But I thought I'd post this first one, a parody of Alastair Reid's iconic and justly admired poem, Scotland.

You can read Alastair Reid's original poem and the story of its dramatic burning, at the StAnza website.

after Alastair Reid

It was a day common to this corner of the planet,
when daffodils bent double in the sleet and wind,
and black umbrellas shattered in the hand.
Spring lay buried in dirt. Greyness entered
the skin. I pressed through empty Sabbath streets –
the nation was shopping in the malls, or choosing
Swedish furniture to compensate for the woodchip
on its walls. I found a Starbucks and a woman
of uncommon beauty behind the counter.
‘What a morning!’ I cried. ‘Why not try an extra shot
of espresso?’ she replied. ‘It’s just the day for it.’
Her smile brightened the hour, and meant
‘Now pay for it, and pay for it, and pay for it.’


Cailleach said...

I like it lots Rob, you've caught the original and given it a nice twist very well indeed. I especially like the 'woodchip on the wall' reference ;) Wasn't that a hit for... damn, I'm thinking Jarvis Cocker but can't remember the band...!

apprentice said...

Yes you've done a nice job. The line line could even be, Now how are you paying for it, paying for it, paying it?

George S said...

That's lovely, Rob. I was sorry to have missed the reading of AR's poem at StAnza but it's good to read it here, complete not so much with parody as with update.

I am sure I have met the young woman serving in Starbucks. In a great many places.

sallye said...

Hey Rob, Alastair's rejected that poem, we're not supposed to keep on replublishing it!

Rob said...

Cheers, everyone.

George, I agree that parody probably isn't the right word.

Sally, I'm going to take Alastair's poem down in a few days. It was just to let people see what I was doing. My own poem is, in a sense, also a rejection of Alastair's poem - not a rejection of its poetry of course.

Anonymous said...

I agree with George S and reckon Alistair might have a wry smile at your poem which offers a subtle development from the original.

The ceremonial burning of the original poem might be a lasting metaphor for a phoenix like Scotland and scottish poetry.

Colin Will said...

BJ asked me to put up Scotland on the StAnza website so he could link to it from his Guardian blog. I've told the story too. The Highlights section now has a Gallery with pics of The 100 Poets Gathering and other events.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps rather than disowning the poem, Alastair should return it to its original title, which was 'St Andrews'. Only when the poem got noticed did he broaden the poem via the title change. It's certainly still true of St Andrews and I very much side with the sensible woman in the poem and not the skylarking man. It seems Alastair has paid for it!


Rob said...

Babara - Jarvis's band was Pulp, and the song was Disco 2000.

Apprentice - I see your idea, but I think the rhythm would be too jerky.

Anon - A wry smile? I hope so.

Colin - that's great. I'll take AR's poem down and link to your page tomorrow.

Roddy - yes, I wrote in an earlier post on how I hoped the attitude of the woman hadn't disappeared. I think it's still an accurate representation of an aspect of the Scottish psyche. It's not the whole thing, of course, but it wasn't the whole thing in 1971 either. I think there has been a shift towards a more hedonistic, consumerist society. My 'version' attempts to represent that side of things. But I think we need more of the woman's 1971 spirit as a counterbalance.