I’m running against the calendar if I’m to meet my goal of 14 14-line stanzas this November. Moving home does get in the way of meeting deadlines.
Rather than offering yet another glimpse into my mundane life, I started out with the rhyme words and went wherever they took me, which turned out in the first line to be a paraphrase of G K Chesterton’s aphorism, ‘If a things’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly,’ closely followed by Fred Brooks’s advice to software systems developers, ‘Plan to throw one away – you will anyway.’
The rhyme words are from stanza 5.10 of Vikram Seth’s verse novel The Golden Gate, the book that provoked my fascination with these Onegin stanzas.
November verse 10: Advice to myself
If it’s worth doing, do it badly
then make it good, or throw it away
and start again – not grimly, sadly:
ludic as a toddler, play
and laugh at failure. Hire a jester,
can the scripts that carp and pester.
Challenges aren’t meant for woe,
they’re the way we get to know
new skills. Scrupulous evasion
is no virtue. Be unclear,
but form rough words and plans, then steer
them on to clarity. Persuasion,
not coercion’s, how we’ve learned
to fan a dream until it burned.
I am no longer amazed – you are to poetic composition what David Astle is to the cryptic crossword. I reckon you could write this on the head of a pin and still leave room for the angels to stand – and not on the words!
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I’m not sure I understand quite what you mean, Jim , but I’ll take it as a compliment
Why is it that I read your poems and love them, but the collectons of contemporary poems that come my way make no sense to me?
I fear it may be that I’m hopelessly old-fashioned, Lisa.