Poetry and Modern Criticism

(taken from the Apocrypha to The Norton Anthology)

ojogno ojhotpogt bgi

Adapted from 'Og',
Jean-Pierre de la Poofsin,

This contemporary post-modern statement on our society is also a deep reflection on our inner selves, splitting our lives into three: birth, life and death. Notice that the three sections are jumbled up cleverly by the artiste, with life '...bgj...', being the longest and central part of our existence but placed at the end of the piece and having the shortest part of the poem. However death, '...ojogno...', the quickest of the three themes, is cunningly placed at the beginning (where logic would dictate that birth would be placed) and given quite a long part. We now come to birth, '...ojghotpogt...', the dominant part of the poem. While there are no obvious contrasts to be had with the length of the section and length of time it takes to be born (without resorting to the pretentious exercise of speculation) I am led to explain this artistic phenomenon by the importance of birth as a process itself, for without birth there would be no life or death.

Unfortunately, the poem was burnt in a fire in the Musee de l'Artiste Boloxe with many like it, but insurance investigators at the time could not account for it, for there was 'nothing of value in the building'.

The Tap

The tap is not
quite off.

Drip, drip.

Dorothy Pastel-Shades

When Mr. Harold Arpingthorp of Woking discovered a battered, patent-leather bound manuscript in his loft in 1972, little did he realise that between the finest pig-skin pages lay a literary message for our time. The poem 'The Tap' is a beacon of genius for this neo-Fabianist, post-anti-classic modernist (not to say pre-emptive Partisan) age. To give a criticism of this work is hardly more an honour than a betrayal, for the music of the soul is all too often disturbed in its reverie by those that would with it plague the mind, and yet this is the task upon which I am set. I therefore attempt it only after first assuring my audience of my unbound reverence for this icon of emancipated new-thought.

The first sense to shock the nerves is a true sombre joy, as the deeper meaning of the ending repetition is revealed in all its newly-bathed glory. The repetition of 'drip' is multiple, and yet abstract. The coarse, off-toned scansion roots deep inside the soul. As a symbol of death it is unparalleled. At the end of the third line it feels complete. The tale is told and re-emphasised by this final 'drip' - and yet the journey is not quite over. The second and third 'drip's are bold and strong and physical. What are the connotations? The afterlife? An iconoclasticism for the future? I doubt that we will ever know. The answer is buried with she who wrote it, and yet her message lives on.

The primary negative aura of the first line is baffling and yet we feel its power. Her reasons for starting the second line in a symbolic lower-case 'q' are clearer. She is opening our minds to the bizarre in connection with the negativity of the first line, culminating in a deeper understanding of our own erstwhile mourned souls. It is a poem of death and of hope; of despair and of free volition. Those who read it cannot but weep under its force - it is a poem whose strength and power has subjugated Eliot, Larkin, Heaney et al to sixth-form status, only finding its match in the biblicalist gospelising of the MHRA handbook.

Dr R.C.K. Allen