A Level Poetry 1… UTTER FILTH
So we’d made it. Finally we’d made it to Sixth Form. What a revelation. Not only could we wear our own clothes (which quickly esatblished itself into a uniform of black jumper, blue jeans, thong (2001, innit) and black boots), not only could we smoke!, we also got to do the sex…
I remember the first English lesson where Michelle (wonderful wonderful woman and brilliant teacher-thank you) mentioned ‘lust’ out loud in class. You could have knocked us over with a feather. There we were, the creme de la Scarborough, thinking we was well hard, and this grown adult woman starts talking about shagging! In a English class!
This was my first introduction to the world of lurve poetry, and someone who was quickly established as my favourite poet, Elizabethan philanderer-turned-priest John Donne.
Donne wrote a lot, but we studied his earlier, pre-finding God stuff, which was mostly about removing women’s clothing and all that goes with that. The first one we read as a class, To His Mistress Going To Bed, still makes me giggle like a seventeen year old at the line
“License my roving hands, and let them go
Before, behind, between, above, below.”
Hee hee hee hee hee…
Other favourites include The Flea, in which Donne compares loosing your virginity with getting bitten by a flea, which, as a person allergic to the little shits I can think is a billion and one times worse, in my experience!
And then we come to my favourite, The Sun Rising. One day, one day, I’m going to awake in a Florence hotel room with big windows, and a wonderful man is going to quote this poem to me…. *
BUSY old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us ?
Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run ?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school-boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices ;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.
Thy beams so reverend, and strong
Why shouldst thou think ?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long.
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and to-morrow late tell me,
Whether both th‘ Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou left’st them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw’st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, “All here in one bed lay.”
She’s all states, and all princes I ;
Nothing else is ;
Princes do but play us ; compared to this,
All honour’s mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world’s contracted thus ;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that’s done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere ;
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.
*Yeah I know, I know, I’m a stupid idiot. I shall re-read Westwood whilst eating lasagna IMMEDIATELY. CAN’T A GIRL JUST DREAM SOMETIMES? EH???? EH????