The Mead from Odin’s Arse
I’ve recently been reading Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology. It’s very good, which should surprise no one. One of the stories is called The Mead of the Poets, and while I enjoyed the story and, to a degree, agree with the sentiment, I was rather disappointed by it, because it smacked of elitism and snobbery. I think elitism in poetry is off-putting and, more often than not, pretentious and unwarranted, and that writers of Neil Gaiman’s stature should feel secure enough to rise above it.
As a footnote, a few days after reading the story I saw Neil Gaiman making a guest appearance on The Big Bang Theory. He has all of the on-screen charisma and presence of a fencepost, but I would be the last person to suggest he should leave acting to “actors” if he and his friends derive pleasure from it…
My poems lack style, my poems lack class
My rhymes so contrived they would leave you aghast
The narrative structures are borderline farce
They’re the mead from Odin’s arse.
My poems aren’t clever, their meanings are clear
They’re not just for poets or wordsmiths to hear
They’re never pretentious and metaphor’s sparse
They’re the mead from Odin’s arse.
I’m not really sure what a poem should be
But I think if you take it too seriously
You sound like a twat with your head up your arse
And poems like that…?
…Well thanks, but I’ll pass
When I first thought about writing a Daily Poem for a year I thought it would be easy, because I write poetry most days anyway. What I’ve quickly come to realise is that writing a poem every day is one thing, while writing a complete and polished poem every day that you then want to immediately share is another. My Daily Poems were intended to be the kind of stuff I post in response to Facebook or Twitter threads – silly little couplets and epigrams for the amusement of myself and the individual I was replying to, and/or a twenty minute ‘morning papers’ kind of exercise that would set me up for my ‘proper’ writing. That doesn’t really work with a wider audience, and I feel a bit like I’m cheating or selling myself and my readers short when I post a few lines rather than a few stanzas. I’m probably overthinking it, but will try to go a bit easier on myself from now on. So, while there will be the occasional longer poem and/or serious poem, there will also be a lot more of this kind of thing…
An industrious fellow, the mole
As he tunnels through meadow and knoll
He looks really cute
In his black velvet suit
But he’s more of a pest on the (w)hole
Sometimes writing poetry is easy,
Your head a hive of buzzing ideas
That bumble and swarm over one another
In a waggle dance of possibilities.
All you have to do is catch one.
On other days you’re chasing stickleback;
A single silver dart flashing now and then
In the murky water,
Slipping between your fingertips,
Deep-diving to the river bed
Where it hides within the impenetrable reeds
Until it’s safe to come out again.
Some days writing poetry is easy.
Some days writing poetry is hard.
In either case, clumsy metaphors
Are probably best avoided.
When I was little I would read a comic strip called The Four Marys in my sister’s Bunty annuals. The following four scraps of nonsense have nothing whatsoever to do with them. Or anything else, for that matter…
Mary had a little lamb,
A funny looking fella
His legs were blue, his body green
And both his heads were yella
Mary had a little pig
She bought him at the market
He looked a bit like Morrissey
But sung like Morton Harket
Mary had a bag of crisps
We asked if she would share ‘em
‘I won’t,’ she said, the greedy cow
And so we made her wear ‘em.
Mary had a pickled egg
She kept it in a jar
She’d take it out and suck it
As a cure for her catarrh
Well, day fifty… A milestone of sorts, I suppose, but a long way to go! So, to celebrate half a century, a “proper” poem today – or at least as close as I get to a proper poem. And who doesn’t love a daff?
I tried to write a love poem
But I love her too much.
There are no words to define it,
No metaphors that can capture
The depth and breadth of the limitless ocean
Of emotion that she stirs.
I bought a bunch of daffs instead –
If they were good enough for Wordsworth
They’re good enough for me.
She put them in a coffee jar on her windowsill
Where the light can get to them.
‘I love daffodils’, she said,
‘They remind me of my mum.’
And she smiled, the glint of a single tear
A bright star in the corner of her eye.
Who needs poetry when you have daffodils?