top of page
ace logo

 The Scent That Captures That "1930s Moment"!

All material copyrighted to © 2014

or to the various credited sources © 2014



The Audens, Spenders, Caudwells and Day Lewises of today –

Post-‘Pylon’ poets snubbed as dithyrambic ‘Windfarm’

Verisifiers in supplemental disparagements from

Establishment gendarmes– are given vent in revenant

Left-wing magazines: the enduringly red Communist Review,

Sixties-retro agitprop poltergeist the International Times, 

And the Morning Star –that urgent howling ghost of the former

Daily Worker of the Thirties– the only newspaper

Cooperative, thus suspect to oligopolies –spurned by

Acquiescent mainstreams which insist on literal interpretation

Of Auden’s disingenuously hijacked lament that ‘poetry

Makes nothing happen’, unimaginatively mystified through

Merman Hermeneutics sealing the aphorism in hermetic

Aspic of solipsism, bypassing the still-pressing and open-

Ended question as to whether there could ever be fusion

Between poetry and action; a relief for the quietist Queens

And Jacks of contemporary supplement poetry: they have

A received verse mandate: non-intervention –and pretention

Is better than pure agitprop; plus nerveless verses need no

Spine to speak of… And it’s in their versted interests not

To let politically active verse sieve through the vents

Of prevailing Quarterly narratives; and, if some accidentally

Does, conservative servicing voices will race to column

Spaces to denounce new unschooled upstarts, careful to

Conceal blistering objections to socialistic sentiments

By couching reactionary rashes in bubonic crypticism,

Overtures to vetting invertebrate letters (reasserting

Themselves as ‘betters’!), haranguing technical inadequacies,

Failiures of leitmotifs, hackneyed language (even that which

Is tackling hackneyed politics –pastiche: special privilege

Of pedants and satirical critics), ‘honeycombing with clichés’

As Cyril Connolly aphorised in Enemies of Promise





Convenient, then, to excerpt only egg-shell exceptions

Of spirited but vulnerable amateurs, scoop tropes completely

Out of context, disingenuously hung out to dry and

Highlight bogus rubric of compositional uniformity

From a multitude of authors –that most improbable thing:

The homologous anthology; such critical skulduggery

Simply abrades its own veneer –ideological purges

Rupture warping surfaces for being so flimsily disguised

In pedantry and nitpicking; thimble-thumbing prickling

And pedagogic thuggery betrays itself as so much public-

Washing of dirty laundry when transparently calculated:

To wring out only the most uncouth cloth of rhetoric...

...For special mention, the sloppier pulps of protest for

Least typical examples, the thornier scrubs of polemical

Poems and choriambic tub-thumps for mean-spirited drubs;

To prowl the souls of words as if to pendulum-dowse

Ranging pages for grains of gracelessness and lack of polish,

Rather than read the full gamut of songs with and without ‘names’

Attached to them, and without prejudice; hack away

At a lack of satire that might have tempted in a more

Apolitical readership, pedigrees of irony-loungers;

And plant proleptic ripostes to anticipated backlashes

At hatchet jobs (O hubris knows no bounds of word counts

In its remorseless Mongol-like sweep through supplemental

Column inches, savage as Visigoths rampaging rapacious

Through Roman arches –columns which act as inscrutable

Jurisdictions where supercilious jackanapes and

Despotic John Croker throwbacks hold kangaroo courts

Under variously abbreviated canopies of Just Churls) –for,

It’s rhetorical: ‘poetry makes nothing happen’, almost on

A habitual basis; the only catalyst is criticism, which

Contrives in the valley of its’ muck-raking, where editors

Tend to pamper; survives –a way of battering; a badmouth…





Now Auden’s camouflaged aphorism is a dictum codified

Into post-modern myth, light years away from C. Day Lewis’s

Left Review pamphlet, ‘We’re not going to do NOTHING’ –

At the vanguard of the red double negative, eventually

To be vandalised by the Soviet transitive, and a volley

Of machine-gunned missives spilling red on red, red against red

(Better red and dead!) –but good on C. Day Lewis for putting

Poetry where its mouth is; at its best, a bullet without

A wreathed name engraved on it, since scrollwork curtails ricochet…





bottom of page