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Happy birthday, A.D. Hope
Posted by: rikki (---.carlnfd1.nsw.optusnet.com.au)
Date: July 20, 2004 09:18PM

Alec Derwent (A.D.) Hope, Australian poet, 1907-2000.

One of my all-time favourite poets - his poems have been described as lyrical, epic, satiric, epistolary, symbolic, discursive, wistful, comic and sexual. That just about covers everything!

Here's one of his lesser-known poems:



Conquistador

I sing of the decline of Henry Clay
Who loved a white girl of uncommon size.
Although a small man in a little way,
He had in him some seed of enterprise.

Each day he caught the seven-thirty train
To work, watered his garden after tea,
Took an umbrella if it looked like rain
And was remarkably like you or me.

He had his hair cut once a fortnight, tried
Not to forget the birthday of his wife,
And might have lived unnoticed till he died
Had not ambition entered Henry's life.

He met her in the lounge of an hotel
- A most unusual place for him to go -
But there he was and there she was as well,
sitting alone. He ordered beers for two.

She was so large a girl that when they came
He gave the waiter twice the usual tip.
She smiled without surprise, told him her name,
And as the name trembled on Henry's lip,

His parched soul, swelling like a desert root,
Broke out its delicate dream upon the air;
The mountains shook with earthquake under foot;
An angel seized him suddenly by the hair;

The sky was shrill with peril as he passed;
A hurricane crushed his senses with its din;
The wildfire crackled up his reeling mast;
The trumpet of a maelstrom sucked him in;

The desert shrivelled and burnt off his feet;
His bones and buttons an enormous snake
Vomited up; still in the shimmering heat
The pygmies showed him their forbidden lake,

And then transfixed him with their poison darts;
He married six black virgins in a bunch,
Who, when they had drawn out his manly parts,
Stewed him and ate him lovingly for lunch.

Adventure opened wide its grisly jaws;
Henry looked in and knew the Hero's doom.
The huge white girl drank on without a pause
And, just at closing time, she asked him home.

The tram they took was full of Roaring Boys
Announcing the world's ruin and Judgement Day;
The sky blared with its grand orchestral voice
The Gotterdammerung of Henry Clay.

But in her quiet room they were alone.
There, towering over Henry by a head,
She stood and took her clothes off one by one,
And then she stretched herself upon the bed.

Her bulk of beauty, her stupendous grace
Challenged the lion heart in his puny dust.
Proudly his moment looked him in the face:
He rose to meet it as a hero must;

Climbed the white mountain of unravished snow,
Planted his tiny flag upon the peak.
The smooth drifts, scarcely breathing, lay below.
She did not take the trouble to smile or speak.

And afterwards, it may have been in play,
The enormous girl rolled over and squashed him flat;
And, as she could not send him home that way,
Used him thereafter as a bedside mat.

Speaking at large, I will say this of her:
She did not spare expense to make him nice.
Tanned on both sides and neatly edged with fur,
The job would have been cheap at any price.

And when, in winter, getting out of bed,
Her large soft feet pressed warmly on the skin,
The two glass eyes would sparkle in his head,
The jaws extend their papier-mache grin.

Good people, for the soul of Henry Clay
Offer your prayers, and view his destiny!
He was the Hero of our Time. He may
With any luck, one day, be you or me.

A.D.Hope


Re: Happy birthday, A.D. Hope
Posted by: ilza (---.162.245.85.user.ajato.com.br)
Date: July 21, 2004 06:35AM

I like him too . . .
here is a different one/tone
.
The Pleasure of Princes

What pleasures have great princes? These: to know
Themselves reputed mad with pride or power;
To speak few words—few words and short bring low
This ancient house, that city with flame devour;

To make old men, their fathers' enemies,
Drunk on the vintage of the former age;
To have great painters show their mistresses
Naked to the succeeding time; engage

The cunning of able, treacherous ministers
To serve, despite themselves, the cause they hate,
And leave a prosperous kingdom to their heirs
Nursed by the caterpillars of the state;

To keep their spies in good men's hearts; to read
The malice of the wise and act betimes;
To hear the Grand Remonstrances of greed,
Led by the pure; to cheat justice of her crimes;

To beget worthless sons and, being old,
By starlight climb the battlements, and while
The pacing sentry hugs himself with cold,
Keep vigil like a lover, muse and smile,

And think, to see from the grim castle steep
The midnight city below rejoice and shine:
“There my great demon grumbles in his sleep
And dreams of his destruction, and of mine.”
rikki wrote:

Alec Derwent (A.D.) Hope, Australian poet, 1907-2000.

One of my all-time favourite poets - his poems have been
described as lyrical, epic, satiric, epistolary, symbolic,
discursive, wistful, comic and sexual. That just about covers
everything!

Here's one of his lesser-known poems:



Conquistador

I sing of the decline of Henry Clay
Who loved a white girl of uncommon size.
Although a small man in a little way,
He had in him some seed of enterprise.

Each day he caught the seven-thirty train
To work, watered his garden after tea,
Took an umbrella if it looked like rain
And was remarkably like you or me.

He had his hair cut once a fortnight, tried
Not to forget the birthday of his wife,
And might have lived unnoticed till he died
Had not ambition entered Henry's life.

He met her in the lounge of an hotel
- A most unusual place for him to go -
But there he was and there she was as well,
sitting alone. He ordered beers for two.

She was so large a girl that when they came
He gave the waiter twice the usual tip.
She smiled without surprise, told him her name,
And as the name trembled on Henry's lip,

His parched soul, swelling like a desert root,
Broke out its delicate dream upon the air;
The mountains shook with earthquake under foot;
An angel seized him suddenly by the hair;

The sky was shrill with peril as he passed;
A hurricane crushed his senses with its din;
The wildfire crackled up his reeling mast;
The trumpet of a maelstrom sucked him in;

The desert shrivelled and burnt off his feet;
His bones and buttons an enormous snake
Vomited up; still in the shimmering heat
The pygmies showed him their forbidden lake,

And then transfixed him with their poison darts;
He married six black virgins in a bunch,
Who, when they had drawn out his manly parts,
Stewed him and ate him lovingly for lunch.

Adventure opened wide its grisly jaws;
Henry looked in and knew the Hero's doom.
The huge white girl drank on without a pause
And, just at closing time, she asked him home.

The tram they took was full of Roaring Boys
Announcing the world's ruin and Judgement Day;
The sky blared with its grand orchestral voice
The Gotterdammerung of Henry Clay.

But in her quiet room they were alone.
There, towering over Henry by a head,
She stood and took her clothes off one by one,
And then she stretched herself upon the bed.

Her bulk of beauty, her stupendous grace
Challenged the lion heart in his puny dust.
Proudly his moment looked him in the face:
He rose to meet it as a hero must;

Climbed the white mountain of unravished snow,
Planted his tiny flag upon the peak.
The smooth drifts, scarcely breathing, lay below.
She did not take the trouble to smile or speak.

And afterwards, it may have been in play,
The enormous girl rolled over and squashed him flat;
And, as she could not send him home that way,
Used him thereafter as a bedside mat.

Speaking at large, I will say this of her:
She did not spare expense to make him nice.
Tanned on both sides and neatly edged with fur,
The job would have been cheap at any price.

And when, in winter, getting out of bed,
Her large soft feet pressed warmly on the skin,
The two glass eyes would sparkle in his head,
The jaws extend their papier-mache grin.

Good people, for the soul of Henry Clay
Offer your prayers, and view his destiny!
He was the Hero of our Time. He may
With any luck, one day, be you or me.

A.D.Hope


Re: Happy birthday, A.D. Hope
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.denver-04rh16rt.co.dial-access.att.net)
Date: July 21, 2004 12:18PM

It is said that this is one of his, and I will only post a link to the second stanza, being aware of delicate readers' sensitivities:

The sun doth shine,
The world is mine,
My bones are full of marrow;
O for a wench
That has a trench
Where I may push my barrow!

[tinyurl.com]


Re: Happy birthday, A.D. Hope
Posted by: RJAllen (193.114.111.---)
Date: July 21, 2004 12:35PM

Horribly appropriate still, hie epitaph for Australian soldiers in Vietnam:

Go tell the old men, safe in bed,
We took their orders and are dead.


after RJ . . .
Posted by: ilza (---.162.245.85.user.ajato.com.br)
Date: July 21, 2004 01:31PM

Inscription for a War
A.D. Hope
from Collected Poems: 1930-1970 (Harper Collins Australia).

Inscription for a War
Stranger, go tell the Spartans we died here obedient to their commands

Inscription at Thermopylae

Linger not, Stranger; shed no tear;
Go back to those who sent us here.
We're the young they drafted out
To wars their folly brought about.
Go tell those old men, safe in bed,
We took their orders and are dead.


Re: Happy birthday, A.D. Hope
Posted by: joseph r. torelli (---.dyn.optonline.net)
Date: July 21, 2004 02:06PM

Reminds me a bit of the refrain from Phil Ochs' "I Ain't Marching Anymore:"

It's always the old who lead us to the wars,
Always the young to fall.
Now, look at all we've won with a sabre and a gun,
Tell me, is it worth it all?


joet


Re: Happy birthday, A.D. Hope
Posted by: marian2 (---.range81-152.btcentralplus.com)
Date: July 22, 2004 03:46AM

It reminds me of Sassoon's General:

The General



‘GOOD-MORNING; good-morning!’ the General said
When we met him last week on our way to the line.
Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of ’em dead,
And we’re cursing his staff for incompetent swine.
‘He’s a cheery old card,’ grunted Harry to Jack
As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack.

. . . .
But he did for them both by his plan of attack


Re: after RJ . . .
Posted by: RJAllen (193.114.111.---)
Date: July 22, 2004 11:00AM

Sorry: quoting from (failing, obviously) memory


Re: after RJ . . .
Posted by: ilza (---.162.245.85.user.ajato.com.br)
Date: July 22, 2004 04:18PM

no need to be sorry - I wish I could quote it, like you !
I just thought one might like to have it complete




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