Saturday, 14 July 2012


Which James? The Clive kind.  A clever, funny and sometimes insightful man, who has on occasion been able to turn those skills to poetry.  But the recent talk, apparently serious, linking his name with the Oxford Professorship of Poetry puzzled me.  Here's a very early Clive James poem (1965, no less) about an air raid on a city; and here's the problem:
In the dark I hear the crockery stutter
As the raid comes over
Stiletto heels step close by 
Champagne bubbles shaken awake
Like glittering ladders
Go up and keep going through the sky. 
After a while the searchlights fall back
On the target city
And with dignity intact you move away.
The first two stanzas are very good (troping the ack-ack gunfire drifting into the night sky as champagne bubbles is almost genius); but the third is unforgiveable weak and most-lame-and-impotent-conclusion-esque.

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