April 23, 2006

The Golden Rule


The poet laureate, Andrew Motion, and the master of the Queen's music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, have written a work together to mark the monarch's 80th birthday. Davies has set a poem called The Golden Rule, written for the occasion by Motion. The poem “tackles”, at the suggestion of Maxwell Davies, "changes in the natural world, and people accelerating those changes, sometimes positively, sometimes not. And through those changes and in and among them, the Queen remains the same". The piece was performed at a service at St George's Chapel, Windsor, today and at Windsor festival in September. Sir Peter described Motion as "very sympathetic and professional - he knows exactly what he's about". That’s as may be and as a anti-monarchist you’d think I won’t care, but demonstrating the dire state of British Official Verse Culture, he certainly knows exactly nothing about writing poetry in the 21st Century. I won’t glorify the poem more than it deserves by reproducing it here, as it is so bad that it really shouldn’t have seen the light of any day. The format – form is term with more gravitas than it can claim – is four stanzas each line beginning with ‘The…’. Each stanza = one sentence, grammatically unchallenging and leaden; each concluding with (hold onto your stomachs) "The golden rule, your constancy, survives." Ok why should I suffer alone? Here’s how it opens:

The waves unfurl and change the shape of coasts,
The shrinking woods fall backwards through their leaves,
The night-horizons twist in chains of light:
The golden rule, your constancy, survives.

This repetition at the end of the sentence doesn’t make it poetry it is the device of rhetorical politicians. I know he’s the poet laureate and keenly pushes the poetic clock back pre-modernism but the celebration of monarchical divinity is vile.

Ideas are in the pipeline for a joint piece to mark Prince Charles's 60th birthday in 2008 – o fuck.

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