POET ON TRIAL by Barrie Purnell


POET ON TRIAL

I am a human by birth but am a poet by choice,
My poetry gives this artist’s abstraction a voice.
But now when I write of the beauty of stars in the sky
Or of the pain in the heart born of saying goodbye
They condemn my use of order, rhyme and repetition,
On the slippery foundation of perfidious opinion.
They say that I’m guilty but do they have proof,
They must know that I only ever wrote down the truth.
I have spent many hours just searching for beauty
As a poet I was surely just doing my duty.
You disciples of Elliot, you lovers of Ginsberg and Pound,
You have contempt for the past and for lyrical sound.
You are literature zealots, who seek to destroy,
All those past compositions that many others enjoy.
You blame me for exposing your pride and pretense,
My words are my weapons they are my only defense.
You put me on trial, but failed to get a conviction,
My ballads and sonnets were outside your courts’ jurisdiction.
You asked me was I guilty? You asked did I transgress
Against your perceived wisdom? My answer was yes.
You wrote me a confession which you asked me to sign,
Because I valued the truth, I was forced to decline.

You keepers of disrupted syntax and experimentation,
You killers of rhyme, you lovers of prose fragmentation,
You don’t like my words but even ideologues must see,
The fact I can write them is what it means to be free.
I think you’re pretentious, you think my work is absurd,
But I’ve only ever been trying to cast a tune down in words.
Trying to find hidden ideas that my mind has caught,
Releasing them from impenetrable thickets of thought
Maybe I could be wrong, and you may prove to be right,
That I’ve been ensnared by the very words that I write.
You say my poetry is obsolete, observing outmoded rules,
But I write for the believers and not for proselyte fools.
You subvert my intentions, punctuating all of my lines,
With meaningless phrases, as revenge for my crimes.
You have confiscated my Sonnets you are shredding them fast,
In your desperation to break all links with the past.
All of our previous beliefs you’ve overturned,
Disregarding all the earlier rules that we’ve learned.
We yearn for the poetry of Hardy, Longfellow and Poe,
And all those lyrical poems penned a long time ago.
But you crucified romantic tradition on Elliot’s cross,
Burying Coleridge, the Mariner and the Albatross.

We’re now emerging from your self-serving sententious gloom,
We have rolled that boulder away from the tomb.
With brains that are hardwired to rhyme and repetition
Lyrical poetry is written to enhance the human condition.
It survives in the remembered verses of a million songs
Your work lies in a void beyond recall, where it belongs.
I now write in secret my sonnets and verses,
That you say are traditional and therefore subversive.
You thought you had won but we were never defeated,
Those lines now rewritten which you had deleted.
You’re conforming non-conformists, loving your own reflection,
Our army is now growing through your disciple’s defection.
I have started a petition, I’ve got ten thousand names,
Very soon other poets will join in our campaign.
So now in the back rooms of backstreet cafes we lurk,
Still fighting the war against all your modernist work.
My disciples are gathering, they meet in the night,
They will soon be re-armed and ready to fight,
To fight for that poetry that sings to your soul,
Replacing all those rhythms and rhymes you Modernists stole.
I have gone underground, I am biding my time,
Waiting for the poetry elite to return to order and rhyme.

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