Monday, 28 November 2016

A Brief Rant on Poetry

One of the things I like about tango is that when I DO pay attention to the lyrics, which is not always, I normally find that they're not shit.

Sometimes I don't understand them, sometimes my reaction is "yeah, right", sometimes they're kind of routine, sometimes the content is morally or aesthetically objectionable in one way or another, and sometimes they're hard to take in the sense that the writer presumably intended, but I can't think of an occasion when they annoyed me by being badly written. Very often, they're great, like "removiendo fotos en mi corazón" and things like that. Or maybe I just don't notice the bad bits because it's not my native language and even when they are a bit weak, I don't take it personally, so I instantly forget it. If you have an example of badly-written tango lyrics, please put them, with your analysis, in the comments.

Today I encountered a poem by a Poet Laureate, no less (the official state poet!), specifically commissioned and written to be carved in stone at the UK Supreme Court. And it's dire. He starts with a nice idea about the setting; he trips over his scansion in line three by adding an unnecessary word that makes the line more twee and less meaningful; and then what a limp, superficial, witless, smug, plodding, naive, insincere four verses. And this appears on the website far too close to a picture of Lord Denning, who besides being a famous and unusually talented judge, really was a poet, in his own way.

Could we not have got somebody good to do this? There must be so many rap artists who could have done a better job of a thoughtful, historically-informed, engaging and aesthetically vigorous poem about the difficulties and importance of the administration of justice. And it would have scanned, rhymed, and made sense to music.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm far to worried about stepping on the toes of my partner and making sure that he or she feels secure and cared for if I'm leading, or complimented if I'm following to listen much to the lyrics. I also recall one time sitting in a lesbian cafe at the music festival of Paraty in Brazil, listening to a divine bossa nova, and realising that the lyrics could have been "Trago-lhe um balde de sucos, espremido de meus furúnculos" and it would have sounded good to me. (My Portuguese is good enough for everyday conversation, but often music lyrics escape me until the second or third hearing.)

My sister is a lawyer though - and on the whole an admirer of Denning. In is time he produced rather a lot of words, one would have thought that there would be some amongst them which would have made a more suitable inscription.