I am starting this thread in the hope that people will post poems or lyrics that they cherish for the way the words illustrate or encapsulate a feeling or notion with a precision that has made them memorable, haunting or just plain enjoyable. And hopefully comment why they treasure these particular words.
I am going to start off with the lyrics to a song which have resonated with me for nearly 50 years now. Long before I’d heard the word autism.
The Drifter’s Escape
“Oh, help me in my weakness”
I heard the drifter say
As they carried him from the courtroom
And were taking him away
“My trip hasn’t been a pleasant one
And my time it isn’t long
And I still do not know
What it was that I’ve done wrong”
Well, the judge, he cast his robe aside
A tear came to his eye
“You fail to understand,” he said
“Why must you even try?”
Outside, the crowd was stirring
You could hear it from the door
Inside, the judge was stepping down
While the jury cried for more
“Oh, stop that cursed jury”
Cried the attendant and the nurse
“The trial was bad enough
But this is ten times worse”
Just then a bolt of lightning
Struck the courthouse out of shape
And while ev’rybody knelt to pray
The drifter did escape
Dylan often uses the outsider to comment on society, like the previous generation of the Beat poets and writers.
In verse one the Drifter is in the court room expressing his fragility and how he is unaware of the nature of his transgression.
In verse two, the judge - official duties performed - removes the apparel of office and sympathises, he’s seen outsiders before. There is a restless crowd outside and the jury are crying for more - the disapproving, accusatory baying of those unable to accept and include lives lived outside the mainstream.
In verse three, the nurse and the attendant are appalled by the mob behaviour. Then divine intervention - or an ordinary weather incident ,take your pick - and the Drifter, unencumbered by popular superstition or orthodox religion, makes his escape. I’ve always felt a certain connection with the Drifter. In my young teenage years I banged on so much about Bob Dylan, that I ended up with the nickname Bob.
this song always gets me im not sure why if its the repitition or the beat but i like it its Fleet Foxes white Winter Hymnal link to you tube below if it works
Yes, the link works. Nice song. I'd heard of the Fleet Foxes but I don't know their music.
One of my own poems - hope that's okay
I wrote this many years ago, at a time when my father was in his final years in a nursing home. My mother had also suffered some illnesses during this period, and I was naturally worried for them. They were separated, but were still close to one another. I was walking along the beach one day when I came upon the scene described. The words came together very quickly soon afterwards. It was one of those magical times when the complexity of what I was thinking and feeling found an expression. I think it's fairly self-expanatory.
“Sixty-six feet from snout to flukes,”
the coastguard said.
As if that was all it was-
something reducible to
human proportion. A scale
more fitting to comprehend:
the length of eleven men
laid end to end.
Death as absolute as death can be -
a silent tonnage of it, tossed
aside as easily as empty shells.
Hard to fathom such a life
snuffed out - like a loved one’s:
a life too large, too vital to be
Across the beach, baleen is
strewn like a broken comb,
its purpose done.
Now, no more than a side-show -
a freak to glut the curiosity of
things best left unknown.
A miracle - its secret undone -
exposed in this immense indignity.
The eye, though blind, accuses.
And I, aware of the intrusion,
pick my way back up the rocks
thinking of my father, in his room,
waiting for the end.
That's very moving and accomplished,Tom. The penultimate verse reminded me of the line 'eyes dead as vicious fish' in John Cooper Clarke's Beasley Street. You have a talent for poetry, have you been writing for long? There is something so sad about a beached whale.
yeah they're good i really like that song
Thanks. I've been writing since I was a child. It's all I ever wanted to do. During the '90s, just after uni, I wrote loads of poetry. I won some competitions and produced a couple of chap-books. Then, for some reason, it simply stopped. I still write an occasional one. But they're very few and far between now.
That certainly sums up the absoluteness of the end of a loved one.
There are so many songs. Here is a very haunting one, by a Russian folk/goth band called Kratong:
I'm glad I started this thread, I may not have read your poem. I'm really impressed.
Love John Cooper Clarke.
To-con-vey one’s moodIn sev-en-teen syll-able-sIs ve-ry dif-fic