David Lewis Paget
The Poetry Course - Poem by David Lewis Paget
I was stumbling through the college grounds
On a day, eight months ago,
It was wintertime, in a fading light
And the ground was covered with snow,
I was there for a course of literature
Set up by Professor Burke,
They said that he had all the answers, then,
To the Poets, and all of their work!
I'd never read too much poetry
What I had went over my head,
I thought there was too much imagery
To understand what they said,
The class was small, I sat by the wall
And tried to avoid his frown,
Whenever he asked a question
I was afraid that he'd put me down.
I didn't know anyone else in there
I was feeling bereft, alone,
But one of the students that sat by me
Had a face that was set in stone,
He was shrunk right down in his overcoat,
And he sat there, stroking his mo,
So after the class, I followed him
And he gave me a brief: ‘Hello! '
I can't ever say that we were chums,
He was far too quiet for that,
We'd wander together, lost in thought
And I was the one to chat,
He'd answer me with a short ‘Hurrumph',
Occasionally answer: ‘Hah! '
And often he'd sound almost profound
With a short and considered: ‘Bah! '
The only time that he came to life
Was when Burke was discussing Rhyme,
Burke curled his lip at the thought of it,
And said: ‘It's a waste of time! '
My friend sank down in his overcoat
And he gave out a funny sigh,
With Burke extolling the free-form art
Of the moderns, and told us why.
He tore up Coleridge: ‘Christabel,
Is just an unfinished dream,
And Wordsworth, him and his leeches - Well!
It seems to me quite obscene! '
He massacred Noyes and his ‘Highwayman',
And Kipling he threw in the bin;
‘‘The Raven' is boring, it's much too long
And the rest of his stuff, just spin! '
Exams were held on a frosty night
With a hell of a fog outside,
My friend was down and dispirited,
But he wrote with a quiet pride,
The final question on rhyme was set
On ‘The Raven' - give a critique! '
I think he would still have been writing there
If we'd had ‘til the end of the week!
The marks came back in a day or two,
I'd scrambled through with a pass,
My friend walked off on his own that night
His shoulders were hunched at the last,
I never ran into him after that,
He'd said, ‘I'd better just go! '
The marks for ‘The Raven' had let him down,
They'd flunked Edgar Allan Poe!
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