Monday, 24 January 2011


Arcimboldo - The Librarian

Between the GARDENING and the COOKERY
Comes the brief POETRY shelf;
By the Nonesuch Donne, a thin anthology
Offers itself.

Critical, and with  nothing else to do,
I scan the Contents page,
Relieved to find the names are mostly new;
No one my age.

Like all strangers, they divide by sex:
Landscape near Parma
Interests a man, so does The Double Vortex,
So does Rilke and Buddha.

'I travel, you see', 'I think' and 'I can read'
These titles seem to say;
But I remember You, Love is my Creed,
Poem for J.,

The ladies' choice, discountenance my patter
For several seconds;
From somewhere in this (as in any) matter
A moral beckons.

Should poets bicycle-pump the human heart
Or squash it flat?
Man's love is of man's life a thing apart;
Girls aren't like that.

We men have got love well weighed-up; our stuff
Can get by without it.
Women don't seem to think that's good enough;
They write about it,

And the awful way their poems lay them open
Just doesn't strike them.
Women are really much nicer than men;
No wonder we like them.

Deciding this, we can forget those times
We sat up half the night
Chockfull of love, crammed with bright thoughts, names, rhymes,
And couldn't write.

Kingsley Amis