Friday, April 29, 2011

Poems for the Royal Wedding

As I write this, we are spinning rapidly towards the event that will finally make all the royal wedding hoopla cease. Meanwhile, though, in these last remaining hours before the much-ballyhooed event, the wedding sounds seem ceaseless. In fact, there’s so much of it that even a literary journalist doesn’t have to look very hard (or even at all) to find tie-in stories. And so here is the last possible (I think!) literary related royal wedding story. At least, it will be until the books start to come out.

Britain’s Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, whose duty it is to keep verse in the British consciousness, wrote a poem for the occasion. The Telegraph was gently scathing:
With no names or dates or places mentioned, the poem might apply to anyone. Anyone with an interest in rings, that is. There are bell rings, tree rings, lipstick rings, some other sorts of rings that aren’t really rings at all unless you stop and think about them in a new way. Ringworm is missing, as are the rings of Saturn, and those left on bartops by perspiring cocktail glasses.
But, The Telegraph says, if it’s not an especially inspiring poem, there are good reasons:
It comes as no real surprise that it is not a tremendously heartfelt poem. Duffy is in her fifties, a professor of contemporary poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University, openly bisexual, and from a Glaswegian working-class background. I may be doing her a disservice here, but I do not imagine her on the VIP guestlist at Boujis. She can have no real sympathy with the newlyweds and for their part I doubt they will have even heard of her.
What The Telegraph does not point out -- and that The Mirror does -- is that, as poet laureate, Duffy commissioned the worked 20 other poets, “with the theme of vows, to be used at weddings and civil partnerships in the UK. ‘Poetry is our national art and this is a part of that, this is a celebration of the whole country and for all couples and everyone.’”

The text of Duffy’s poem, as well as those of the other poems she commissioned, appeared in The Guardian last weekend. It seems to me to be a worthy celebration of the verse form, not to mention an occasion that will be remembered and remarked upon for decades.

You can read the poems in The Guardian here.



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