Friday, 17 September 2010

The house of books rises higher

I read Karen Jankulak's very lucid new Writers of Wales critical biography of Geoffrey of Monmouth today - he's the guy who really got Arthur out of Wales and onto the European stage, and an early historian of pre-Saxon Britain, though his historical approach is to do as much diligent research as possible, then make the rest up. His work, especially Historia Brittonum, is therefore highly readable. 

More books turned up today - all for work. Volume 1 of Caryl Churchill's plays, including Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, based on Gerrard Winstanley's Christian Communist efforts at land reform during the English Civil War period. 

Levine's Highbrow/Lowbrow, about the development in America of the divide between cultural activities - very useful for talking about Shakespeare, literature and class. 

Out of a sense of completeness rather than joy, Deborah Devonshire's Wait for Me - she's the last (and least interesting) Mitford sister. 

Also, some old Terry Eagleton essays, Against the Grain, mostly for his Land of Hope and Glory rewrite, 'The Ballad of English Literature"

Chaucer was a class traitor 
Shakespeare hated the mob 
Donne sold out a bit later 
Sidney was a nob

Marlowe was an elitist 
Ben Jonson was much the same 
Bunyan was a defeatist 
Dryden played the game

There’s a sniff of reaction 
About Alexander Pope 
Sam Johnson was a Tory 
And Walter Scott a dope

Coleridge was a right winger 
Keats was lower middle class 
Wordsworth was a cringer 
But William Blake was a gas

Dickens was a reformist 
Tennyson was a blue 
Disraeli was mostly pissed 
And nothing that Trollope said was true

Willy Yeats was a fascist 
So were Eliot and Pound 
Lawrence was a sexist 
Virginia Woolf was unsound

There are only three names 
To be plucked from this dismal set 
Milton Blake and Shelley 
Will smash the ruling class yet

Milton Blake and Shelley 
Will smash the ruling class yet


Benjamin Judge said...

Worst poem ever?

The Plashing Vole said...

Can't disagree there. I think he was trying to tease his colleagues. It's a dismal piece of doggerel.