This post is nonsense.


Recently I’ve discussed poem endings and then poem beginnings (the opening lines). An internet friend asked what I’d do next – perhaps discuss middles. I joked that maybe I’d look at a selection of line eights.


Well, why not? Occasionally random selections turn up something interesting. I still remember a school French grammar textbook which set French phrases in a series down the page alongside the English translations. I tried reading a bit of the English as a sequence and got:


She is sitting

He is kneeling

They are hanging from the ceiling.


Not quite a haiku, but a pointed little poem.


So here goes with a poem made up of the eighth line of every eighth poem from the earliest ones in my canon, ready to fire.


Of Saxon or Mordred may have built

Though Midas put the markets in a stir

As the breakers crumble?

After angle and curve into dark

Down the leat’s long scar

Until the monster in its den

So what has stayed with you?

I think he might be smelly

Whose summit shows signs of long-gone harm

Before they leave for the drowned land, the sky darkening,

Water, and when he’s drunk the stream

Till a light casual tap shatters it

So I can listen to its roar

Something begins to pulse, divide,

Satisfied. Only five quid,

And making self-effacing jokes are watching her.

And when a wandering “if” came on the wind

And a little lawyer beyond bribes dreamt of a pure Republic

Under that crazy-angled floating box.



Hmm… I don’t think I’ll submit it. It doesn’t work as well as Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain”, reputed to be a string of first lines that were waiting for a song. There are a few couples of lines that could conceivably make sense, if that’s the intention.


But a semi-serious point: from that transect through my poetry, what could anyone say about the poetry as a whole? Anything? What if for a later age, only a jumble of a few lines of Shakespeare survived, no two lines that belonged together? How would he be characterised?


By the way, there were several poems in the sequence of one in eight that were seven lines long or shorter. I ignored them.


Next time, maybe: titles. Like Marquis or Lieutenant-Commander.