The Agreeable World Of Wallace Arnold: I wandered lonely thro' the dappled glades, and lo ...

Share
Related Topics
WHEN WAS IT that first I realised poetry flow'd through my blood even as a gazelle darteth his way hither and thither through a rain forest?

I think I gained some sense of my calling when I was - what? - five or six years of age. I still remember the moment when I realised I was a poet. I was walking through a wood, the dappled glades o'ershadowing my brow, clad in shorts, cap, crisp white shirt and sensible sandals. Suddenly, as if from Heaven, it came to me with a crystal clarity that "wood" rhymed with "food". And therewith my first poem was formed. Naive, yes - but also, friends assure me, deeply poignant in its very simplicity:

Walking through the shady wood

I think that in a few hours time I

should like to eat some food.

I hope it will taste good

Because I can't deny I'm in the mood.

This poem - "Repast V" is to be found in my new tome, Smoke-Rings from a Poet's Pipe: The Collected Poems of Wallace Arnold (Oxford University Press). In the past few days, I have taken the liberty of forwarding it to Mr Campbell at Downing Street with this accompanying note:

"Dear Alastair (may I?!),

"Friends have informed me that your shortlist for the exalted post of Poet Laureate is lacking in a certain - how to put it kindly? - a certain `oomph'. Of the four nominees, one is a woman and the others are photographed in open-necked shirts. It must be clear to all at No 10 that not a single one of these scruffs is suited to the task of composing a sufficiently respectful ode in celebration of the forthcoming marriage of HRH Prince Edward and Miss Sophie Rhys-Jones. They may well make the right noises in "Writers' Workshops" (dread locations!) or the like, but does this really qualify them to expound on matters of national and international significance? Methinks not.

"I enclose my collection for your approval, together with a first draught of my `Edward and Sophie: Ode to a Super Young Couple,' to be officially released to coincide with the Wedding of the Century. My qualifications for the Laureateship - public school, Garrick, confidant of Royalty, never photographed in open neck - are gaining me a tidal wave of support. Incidentally, I am mustard-keen to compose a poem in praise of Tony's first two years in Downing Street. I have the rhymes ready in my head for immediate dispersal. Blair - extremely fair, his watchword is care, good head of hair, warm as a bear, he and Cherie make a lovely pair, always looks good in smart-casual wear, qualities oh so rare, we love him yeah yeah yeah.

"Let me know your answer soonest. A poet's blessings on you all.

"Yours ever, Wallace (Arnold)."

Though this communication was - and must remain - strictly private, I am prepared to let devoted readers of this column see selected extracts from my aforementioned ode:

Edward and Sophie - a super

young couple

They don't seem the type to cause

any trouble

She, with neat, well-pressed clothes

that usually match.

He, with inoffensive face and slight

bald patch.

Together, oh joy of joys, they will walk

down the aisle

All hail, Prince and Commoner,

hail! hail! hail!

A joyous occasion, without a single

bloomer,

Britain rejoices in a couple who

share a terrific sense of humour

Through pageantry, pomp and

crowds two abreast

We may look on with pride and say,

"It's what Britain does best."

Those better equipped to judge than I assure me that this little offering is intensely moving, and perfectly in tune with the occasion. It will prove a crucial test of Mr Blair's taste to see whether he is prepared to dispatch his weak, unkempt shortlist to the wastepaper basket and rethink his plans.

It is not, of course, the fault of my fellow shortlistees if their mothers never taught them how to dress to go out. Nor can they be blamed for the sulkiness of expression that creeps into their verse. But does the nation really want the Laureate to mope around, all down-in-the- mouth?

I think not. "Cheer up, it might never happen!" should surely be the new Laureate's motto. I rest my case.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: the paraphernalia of a practised burglar – screwdrivers, gloves, children

Guy Keleny
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits  

So who, really, is David Cameron, our re-elected ‘one nation’ Prime Minister?

Andrew Grice
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?