the perfect marriage
of the singer to the song
is charles aznavour
with ‘yesterday when I was young’.
Charles Aznavour wrote “Yesterday, When I Was Young” with Georges Garvarentz back in 1964. RIP Monsieur.
I would have done so much better to have followed the life advice in one of my favourite stanzas from Shakespeare’s oeuvre:
What is love? ’tis not hereafter;
Present mirth hath present laughter;
What’s to come is still unsure:
In delay there lies no plenty;
Then come kiss me, sweet-and-twenty!
Youth’s a stuff will not endure.
And the same message recurs in W.H. Auden’s ‘The Moment’, already referenced in another poem this month.
If you see a fair form, chase it
And if possible embrace it,
Be it a girl or boy.
Don’t be bashful: be brash, be fresh.
Life is short, so enjoy
Whatever contact your flesh
May at the moment crave:
There’s no sex life in the grave.
There’s no two ways about it, I should have taken more chances.
with reverent fingertips
my sister’s bedroom walls.
once a brilliant crocus yellow,
vibrant and aflame,
a fresh coat of paint
testament to a new home,
a new freedom,
a new start.
now the sunshine emulsion
is faded to the dusty golden
of a cherished old teddy
in the airing cupboard,
held together by patches and repairs.
beneath the paint
the anaglypta is like
stalks of wheat
waving in the breeze.
but we are a ruined crop,
to dust in the wind.
she went on ahead,
her stoic walk
so matter of fact,
the precise pattern
of her personality.
to her breast
and eyes fixed
the way ahead.
she was not one
to be diverted
from her goal.
his heart has forgotten how to feel.
it is desiccated, a dry streambed
at the foot of a deep canyon
in a years’ long drought.
fear opened a chasm inside him
and a cold wind blew through it.
he suppresses the aggression
that rises through him, as if
his whole frame were cabled
and plugged into a wall
socket of violence.
it curls his hands into fists
and twists his insides so
that he can hardly breathe,
and his smile tastes bitter with malice.
while they watch him through
locked windows, tremble and brace
for the onset of his wrath,
he longs only to be as empty as
a beach swept clean by the tide.
kneeling by our 2ft6 twin beds,
matching red tartan bedspreads
hemmed with neat scarlet fringes,
we said our prayers inside our heads
and felt the darkness in the bedroom breathing,
gathering density and texture
like a giant ball of wool rolling itself up
into something substantial.
we half fell in love with the jesus on our wall,
wavy auburn locks and kind blue eyes,
always with that smile, a touch reproachful,
whose sacred heart still somehow forgave us all.
meanwhile, swimming up from dreams
into the shouted voices of the night,
the recurrent intermittent clamour of the fight,
our eyes try to hold on to each shadowy form
as if awareness can still it or keep it at bay.
in rose-tinted retrospect,
a hostess in a party dress,
at a threshold, fresh
and daring and defiant.
a beguiling honesty,
open as a box of chocolates
that we all dipped our hands in
to pick out our favourites.
floundering in a sea of errors.
unfurled in a torrent,
her ‘there but for the grace of’
a tipsy princess in glad rags,
her entire can of beans,
a kitchen-sink drama,
a glenn tilbrook lyric
of a life, down the pan
and up the junction.
swept us away on its tide
of heightened emotion;
our own lives
monotone in comparison,
muted, existence with
the sound turned down.
a damsel in distress,
enchanting and enchanted,
a firefly trapped
in an upturned glass,
and would not be
buoyant on a breeze
a fleeting heady
taste of triumph
a headlong plummet
a prolonged sojourn
a soap opera scenario,
one wrong move
a false step into forever.
her nature to soar
above us all,
a bird’s eye view
on the dutiful.
we all got drunk after
our various fashions,
to forget what we’d done
(or hadn’t done)
roles we never
we did not
witness the sad decline
from her glory days
when she held
every boy’s heart
in her thrall;
could turn heads
with a toss of her hair;
it looked like she could
have had it all.
if you like
her thrilling runaway
train ride of a life.
but we will
remember her 21
paused on the brink,
the heroine of the story,
when all was yet to come.
its stone stippled with lichen,
mottled with moss as verdant
as the ancient forests of the crown,
this palace wall has borne witness
to the rise of kings, the trials and downfall
of chancellors and chamberlains.
its long, winding down days
have seen such splendour,
its nights passion as unbridled
as a waterfall swollen by rain.
its patient bricks stood mute
through betrothals and betrayals,
while the mistresses machinated
to evade the tower, helpless
to the whims of majesty,
as stags to the huntsman’s bow,
all at the mercy of a serial infatuate.
garlanded with ivy, wreathed in
the white bells of hedge bindweed,
an onlooker as the tourists pour in,
armed not with sword and shield
but with selfie sticks and curiosity.
and wait, those days have come again.
film crews white balance
for the mulled-wine draperies,
the rich tapestried interiors.
costumed actors vape and gossip,
empty vessels making noise,
heads glued to phones, they lean
against the wall, waiting to communicate,
to recreate, its glorious tudor past.
Picture of wall at walled garden, Kylemore Abbey by Belinda Latchford.
he loved her with a ferocious
she entirely failed
sometimes her insensitivity,
the sheer totality of her disregard,
is enough to make him flinch inside,
a whiplash to his unprotected heart,
a hammer blow to a self-esteem
that already dragged hangdog,
half in the gutter.
he would die for her
and she might never notice
or realise the depth of his devotion.
his loyalty is absolute,
without expectation of reward,
though she can render him
incandescent with a rage
that consumes his leftover
shards of pride like kindling.
Other poems inspired by My So-called Life.
meetings arranged, they say, never work out
I say we’ve proved them wrong without a doubt
I can’t remember now just what we said
I never could have guessed what lay ahead
as I ran towards you up the stairs
did a voice in my ear cry, “beware”?
even now I’m surprised you recall
such a short time it took me to fall
pretending that my heart still lay elsewhere
when in truth I had long ceased to care
for what I thought I’d never replace
’til in my heart you left him no space
you say, you wonder what was it I saw?
I say “oh, I don’t recall anymore”
my first impressions have been left behind
replaced now by feelings and more lost in kind
sure that you know but you never can tell
when I think I understand you so well
shakes me that you were a constant surprise
or so you appear in my eyes
tempting to think now it will all be plain sailing
old enough now to know there’s no such thing
Just a beautiful song from the album A Distant Shore, released in 1982.