Sunday, September 03, 2006

Enconium for John by Mahon and Cronin

Dear Reader

The piece below is from a few weeks back. A blip in technicals means my current stuff's moved href="">here

Monday - Church - 7pm

God of speech Anthony Cronin joined with literate deity Derek Mahon in a prime piece of church property (built in two years at a cost of £5000 and opened for worship on Sunday 14 June 1863).

To make John Betjeman speak on Monday evening? I hear you say?

Off course
those dividing iambics which tick bombs of opinion to explode on-screen in various free-of-all-verse forums throughout cyberworld,

were given an hour long airing;
fifteen minutes after I arrived on foot and realised my destination was a compact walk-up prayer-hall on the SW corner of Stephen’s Green, and outside whose doors a trail of suits assembling in obvious number, witnessed a man unseen for some months in such ratio.


When Cronin comes to work it's a full house of gossip lovers who relish the real thing,

and Deggsy’s global reputation mixed with Tony’s gags meant many came early to guarantee a spot at the lock-in.


Both A list repositories of their nation's poetic lore;

one of whom staggered ducked and dived round Dublin,
London and Paris with literary legends in the first swill

of his manhood, 20 years before many senior
warblers were anonymous newbies learning to rope
poet's at the Palace Bar.


A frisson of potential exclusion briefly fused through the thickening queue of punters on the pavement below the large gothic stone portal with doors designed to withstand a battering-ram,

due to abruptly shut when evening prayer began,
so I thanked creation for guiding me to exit my flop hutch of composition 10 minutes quicker than when non-gods appear in more quotidian and emptier space.


A liminal flux was palpable during the 30 seconds in the go-slow bottle-neck I mistook for a dash to basement seats

and breathing a sigh of relief as I left the patient and orderly autograph mad punters entering their names in a visitors book

peeled off from the queue to a stage
where Ogma's word moved through two who connect

with the last rites of Greg's beatification at the gobs of Chris and Mick in the Surgeons,

as so many so desperate to attend a reading
I'd not witnessed since then

John Betejeman
- massively popular poet and hack's ghost
emanating an odour of iambic ectoplasm I whiffed when a plural god kicked off behind a pillar blocking my view.

The perfect position to leave with no fuss, should boredem call or a need for the jacks.


Cronin is an icon whose fantastically long poetical pedigree and orbits are unique, varied and have accessed all ear and tongue from Taoiseach to tramp. On a generational scale Seamus is to Anthony as Cronin to Betjeman.

But whereas John B’s gift -of/mak/ing/verse-cause/un/ease- is underrated by those who do not work in this form and can not write in regular iambic for toffee, Tone C's prose equivalent ability is conjuring up cut-glass barbs of
windy intellectuals blow in fear of

a talented cypher cutting their quill.


Cronin and Mahon are not legends in the first flush of youth like Aisle 16 or the thick crop of bruisers on net-boards new talent writes on, so vive voce was never a backable odd in a religious space built for a few hundred.

On an international stage Dek's poems are read and Tone by comparison is unknown; but his influence here is instantly audible for all who witness this remarkably real-life conduit offering poetical insight for all; whoever they are and however they write

and although he got lost in a line or three, his sound of sheer sincerity and acceptance when collapsing mid-stumble served to convey only extra layers of vocal poignancy on a day whose celebratory depth of meaning filtered through loud-speakers to even the most cynical of butt-parkers crammed on the pews avid and rapt listening for myth being lured to life from seven pm.

This hot bed of tolerance was a congregation of all ages, from geriatrics down; there for a service from two maestros speaking John’s word at a temple,
whose art I heard Ogma invoke in an hour long enconium.


Just hearing them both blowing breath was instruction enough; and with Tone in arch-poet mode to a faster younger understudy doing it straight

John Betjeman spoke to me through Mahon and Cronin, the octogenarian colleague whose speech god gifts a laboriously acquired form few write in

but plenty who do not, or will not

dismiss and
as they cannot

find faith or write verse
in the hard won line drawn
from John's page lots don't write
of or on.


tell me what ratio
of silence to sound

will burst a poem
and lash out your sense
in my world

"I betcha da moan
and not laugh with a metrical system
second to none and unknown to"

the middle man of English verse who seems
so tame

when he does not bluff but
presents a logical system of


Disable this BBCode

notify me to post off
and syphon your mind
in his signature style,
smile and

profile attached to a
public 'n iambic view of
life on a train from
Tufnell Park station
moving through Highgate and

to woodland, heather and a
hearthland on heath near
an ocean our two
feet dip in and
out of at will.

1 comment:

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