“In theory they were sound on Expectation
Had there been situations to be in.
Unluckily, they were their situation”
CLUE: A Yorkshireman in America?
W.H. AUDEN – “THE QUEST”. Auden was a Yorkshireman who moved to the States.
Wiry and white-fiery and whirlwind swivelled snow
Spins to the widow-making unchilding unfathering deeps
CLUE: Socialising with Jesus?
GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS SJ (Society of Jesus) – “THE WRECK OF THE DEUTSCHLAND”.
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim
And purple-stained mouth
CLUE: Suffering from a kind of Thrush?
JOHN KEATS, “ODE TO A NIGHTINGALE” – the poem is about joy and suffering among other things and a Nightingale is a member of the thrush family. The quote is a reference to people in the South of France drinking wine.
The earth of shells and friends is covered in flowers
CLUE: Money is the source of some evil.
OK, I sort of cheated. This is one of mine – so SIMON BANKS (Moneybanks?), “Estuary Shore”.
Far, far around shall those dark clustered trees
Fledge the wild-ridged mountains steep by steep
CLUE: Hyperion to a satyr!
Which is a quote from “Hamlet”, but that’s a red herring. the poet is JOHN KEATS again, “Ode to Psyche”. Keats wrote, but never finished, the epic poem “Hyperion” and he wrote a lot about elements of classical Greek mythology such as Hyperion, satyrs and Psyche.
though now it seems
As if some marvellous empty sea-shell flung
Out of the obscure dark of the rich streams
And not a fountain, were the symbol which
Shadows the inherited glory of the rich
CLUE: Bill Gates?
W.B. YEATS, “Meditations in Time of Civil War”. If I could remember just one short passage of poetry, this would be it. The W is for William (informal form Bill) and Yeats and Gates are variants of the same word, what we now call a gate.
Neither the magical smith nor the carver
Of mythical fish on soft stones will answer a call
CLUE: The first pope?
Cheating again – another of mine slipped in. SIMON BANKS, “Callanish – Winter Solstice”. Allegedly the first pope was Peter (Simon Peter, Simon the Rock).
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of beaten gold and gold enamelling
CLUE: An Irishman in Istanbul
W.B. YEATS again – “Sailing to Byzantium”. Yeats was Irish and Istanbul used to be Constantinople, the capital of Byzantium.
Cold blows the wind on my true love
And a few small drops of rain
I never knew but one true love
And in greenwood he was slain
CLUE: What about Franz Fanon?
Rhymes with ANON. This is an anonymous late medieval ballad, quite a well-known one.
It came to me on the Nile my passport lied,
Calling me dark who am grey
No, MacNeice. LOUIS MacNEICE – “Beni Hassan”.
I saw Willie Mackintosh burn Auchendoon:
CLUE: Perhaps the most prolific of all poets.
ANON again, obviously – an anonymous 16th century Scottish ballad. It’s an example of a line that needs context to be effective: Willie and the Mackintosh clan are seeking to avenge the murder of the Earl of Moray in Mary, Queen of Scots’ time and in the ballad are repeatedly warned not to raid and burn the house of the man responsible. We know the raiding party will be caught on the way back and nearly wiped out. This is the last line: Willie ignores the warnings and goes to his death.
Remember me to God
And tell him that our politicians swear
They won’t give in till Priussia’s rule’s been trod
Under the heel of England – are you there?
Oh, and the war won’t end for at least two years,
But we’ve got bags of men
CLUE: Mad Jack
Which was the nickname in the First World War of Second Lieutenant Siegfried Sassoon (on the British side despite his first name). So – SIEGFRIED SASSOON, TO ANY DEAD OFFICER”.
Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass
Stains the white radiance of eternity
Until death shatters it to fragments
CLUE: Related to Frankenstein by marriage.
That should have been an easy one – P.B. SHELLEY (whose wife wrote FRANKENSTEIN): “ADONAIS”.
Oh, and one I meant to include but forgot:
She drove in the dark to leeward
She struck not a reef or a rock
But the coombs of a smother of sand. Night drew her
Dead to the Kentish Knock.
CLUE: A manly poem.
GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS again – and again that tremendous long poem, “THE WRECK OF THE DEUTSCHLAND”.
I was just a bit disappointed no-one actually had a go at this as a quiz, even for some of the questions, but this has been fun, so I think I’ll include single mystery quotes in future posts, some at least. That could give me a chance to redress one big imbalance, since all these poets were male. I think this is a historical thing: poetry until the mid-twentieth-century was much more male-dominated than novel-writing, for example. If I was picking out four or five of the best contemporary British poets and following personal taste, Julia Copus and Kim Moore would be in there; but they’re not yet well enough known to have been fair quiz questions. Earlier? Personally I’m not a Sylvia Plath fan, unpopular though that position is, and Emily Dickinson interests rather than excites me, though I need to test that more. I want to go back and look at Christina Rossetti’s stuff more, though.
Come on – have a go!