So the Review
is ten years old,
Five times as many thousands sold
And all you’ve touched has turned to gold!
At least in theory:
There’s still the printer’s bill, I’m told.
How very dreary.
I’d like to see
its name in neon
But I’m afraid this humble paean
Will have to do. It seems an aeon
Since we last met.
I promised you a letter, Ian,
So one you’ll get.
If Ian Hamiltons
(Offhand, I can distinguish four
Or five. I hope there are no more)
Think it’s addressed
To them, too bad. You’re tooth and claw
Above the rest.
must think you cater
For every cultural taste, creator
Of symphonies, an adumbrator
Of army tricks, a
Late Editor of the Spectator,
A concrete mixer.
But anyone who
Will know just who you are. He shares
An interest in your affairs
That goes much deeper
Than literary bulls and bears
With you zoo-keeper.
I’m glad you
let me in on what
Has proved to be, like it or not,
A property that’s very hot.
Of verse require, this one has got:
It beats as it cleans.
Ten years! Your
longest venture yet!
I well recall when we first met
You’d got your latest, like a pet
On a short run.
But soon you left it with the vet:
You’d had your fun.
in its mirrored gloom
Stacks of Tomorrows richly loom,
Three quid a copy now -- for whom?
We were too feeble
To fetch them from a cleaner’s room
In watchful Keble
Where you were
not persona grata,
Your credit balance a non-starter.
The magazine had made you martyr
To unpaid batells
(I hope they’re not averse to barter
And kept the chattels).
You found it
wise, promptly and gaily as
One might go out and buy azaleas
Or like a crook adopt an alias,
To start another,
Proving the happy rule that Failure’s
An elder brother.
Worthington was still
Around and we’d got time to kill
(Pages were harder than beer-mugs to fill).
We broke the tape
Playing bar-billiards until
The thing took shape.
We chose a fairly
flat name, though
We didn’t then think of Defoe,
That literary one-man-show
Of bourgeois letters,
Whose honest prodding, as you know,
Put him in fetters.
when you are belted
By puffs whose icing you have melted:
In that rough age you’d think he felt it
More than in ours,
But in the pillory he was pelted
Only with flowers.
Bouquets to you
too, Ian, then,
Most incorruptible of men.
Ten years seems very little when
The job’s done well.
We may yet see another ten:
Who can tell?
Harpo to poetry’s Sig Rumen,
You lit a memorable lumen
And held it steady,
Heroic like your favourite Newman
As Fast Eddie.
The Fat Men quivered
at your glance,
Careers destroyed by your advance.
Still you are wooed at every chance
Like an heiress,
And lead the dunces quite a dance
From Westbourne Terrace.
At least ten
years ago there were no
Worse than those who, sipping Pernod,
In Lallans ruined the Inferno
With tips from Pound.
Now we’ve (facilis descensus Averno)
Ten years have
witnessed a gigantic
Increase in the transatlantic
Subterranean mode, each antic
Sillier than the last,
Most a mere throwback to a frantic
Ampersands, athletic chats
On breathing or the evil that’s
Instinct in iambs,
Tall stories, empty as the flats
Of Harry Hyams.
Oh those Primitivist
Steamrolling Newcastle or Kansas
With misspelt lower-case bonanzas
Of pot and Zen
In which mistrust of things like stanzas
Shows they are men
And fit to blast
an epic trail
Though with a certain mannered, frail
Excess that rises to a wail
When they’re ignored,
Ripe as the scrawlings in a gaol
Or a locked ward
nurtured by the nurses
Eager with poultices and curses:
For unread poets get free purses
From an Arts Council
As interested in their verse as
In kinds of groundsel.
You haven’t stopped
all this, but still
You’ve drawn attention to the ill.
Though to the Bank of Time he will
Remain a debtor,
The patient’s choking on your pill
And may get better.
I hope so, and
I’d like to see
The Review out with the frequency,
The brightness and authority
Of a new penny,
So wish that all returns will be
Happy and many.