Wednesday 30 March 2011


I found some of my poems today.  
Written when I was about 12, they are pretty cringeworthy, 
but my mother (unlike Wendy Cope's, see below)
made encouraging noises, 
so that was all that mattered.

And then this all too recognisable description of 
 the moment when one is seized with
a desire to make up some poetry. 
popped out of a Rosamond Lehmann's short story
I was reading.

No sooner tapped than the facile fount began to flow
No trouble at all in those days.
Heather, weather, brim, dim,
bloom, gloom and off we go:
every rhyme rhyming, every fairy flitting,
stars glimmering, moon beaming,
wind sighing, buds breaking -
never stumped for a subject,
never uneasy about a sentiment,
each completed work as neat,
tinkling and bland as a poem by
and quite satisfactory to myself.

I was pretty pleased with my efforts too,
but was never in any danger of winning 
the Michael Braude Award for Light Verse.
Wendy Cope won it though and she wasn't best pleased.

 Neatly winding up these oddments of thread,
I heard her on Front Row talking to Mark Lawson
who wondered how she felt about her work being described as
light verse.
She said, 'I don't like it, but I took the money.'
I'd rather like to see her.
Perhaps I can. 
Rabbi Lionel Blue will be there too.
I once tried to persuade him to write a children's book.
He humoured me and kept a copy of Frog and Toad
by Arnold Lobel which I had brought as a present for him
but I never got the book.


  1. Son of a gun, I remember when you flirted with Rabbi Blue about a book! What a long time ago it seems, although in the eye of eternity it's just a blink.

  2. I was rather hoping we could have a snippet of your early work...

    I heard Wendy Cope too - and thought she had a rather pragmatic approach to poetry.

  3. When I was very little I wrote a few poems. There always seemed to have to be a rhyme for 'beer' in them, though.