Young bards, whate'er you do to make a name, shun dread Poetry Day, it brings no fame

Click to follow
The Independent Online
As I was going home last night,

Rather tired and slightly tight

I heard a fellow on the bus

Say to himself, or to all of us,

"Oh no! Oh Lord! I clean forgot!

Oh dear! Now I'm in a spot!"

He sat and groaned and moaned aloud

While everyone in that home-bound crowd

Looked at each other curiously

Wondering what his plight might be.

At last, one braver than the rest

(Or perhaps less British) then addressed

That suffering man upon the bus

And said: "Hey, hey - why all this fuss?

Why do you grieve and sorrow so?

Come on, tell us! We want to know!

Blow your nose. Dry your eye.

Here's a Kleenex. Now, try, man, try!"

The passenger blew his nose so hard

That everyone recoiled a yard,

Then crept back close to hear how he

Might justify his misery.

"This morning, when I woke up in bed,

My girl turned to me," he said,

"And forthwith challenged me to say

What special day it was today.

`Oh no!' I said. `It cannot be

Our wedding anniversary!

Have I forgotten it once again?

It must have slipped my poor old brain.'

`No, no,' she said, `how can that be?

You are not even married to me!

You still may pop the question yet,

But till that day you're quite safe, pet...'

It's true. The state that we live in

Is less like marriage, more like sin.

`You're right,' I said. `So what's today?

The equinox? The First of May?

The start of National Peanut Week?

Early closing on Mustique?

A national feast in Pakistan?

Dylan Thomas Day in Laugharne?'

`Ah - now you're getting warm!' she smiled.

`Think W.B. Yeats. Think Oscar Wilde!'

`Something Irish?' I surmised.

`Something poetical, rather, say.

Today is National Poetry Day!

Today's the day when all must try

To write a little poetry,

To gurgitate a little verse,

No matter how cursory or terse.'

`Gurgitate?' I said. `Can there be

Such a word in the dictionary?'

`Whether there can or not,' said she,

`Is immaterial to me.

Poetic licence says there can!

Now, listen, if you are a man,

Write a poem, today, for me,

Write it gently, tenderly

So when you hit the homeward road,

You'll bring your sonnet, or your ode,

And when wine is served and candles lit,

You can softly read me it.' "

The man looked anguished as he spoke.

He was a decent-looking bloke,

But it was plain that he'd forgotten

To write his poem. Now he felt rotten.

But all at once the man who first

Had asked him why he groaned and cursed

Said: "Come on - stop your whining, lad!

Things are really not so bad.

You're not the only one, you know,

Who's going home with nowt to show.

All of us upon this bus

Were meant to bring on home with us

A piece of poetry for the wife,

But have we got it - not on your life!

Am I right in my shrewd guess?"

And as one man we shouted "Yes!"

"You see," he said, "this Poetry Day

Is just a load of straw and hay.

Nobody takes it seriously,

Except the press. You're bound to see

The papers print a bit of verse,

Some of it bad, some of it worse.

It fills up space and makes them look smart,

Though they couldn't give a toss for art.

But everyone else can turn a blind eye

When National Poetry Day comes by."

It seems a very sensible view.

I think he was probably right. Don't you?

Thanks to the National Lottery for its support