Parrot Addenda

Over the Summer and Autumn of 2018, I have written a series of stanzas in rhyme royal, mostly on the subject of Brexit. Here they are, as a collection.

Each has been written as a separate item, rather than as part of a longer poem. They were produced in response to, and often very soon after, various events and announcements that occurred during the weeks concerned, in connection with Brexit’s painstaking progress through each day – day after day of intricate insanity in order to arrive at yet more of the same.

Each separate stanza went up here on this blog – and on my facebook timeline – almost immediately after it was written. They can all still be found on this site, each in its singularity.

But here I have put them together in chronological order and with footnotes and an afterword. And I have included the latest stanzas so far, and shall keep doing so, as and if more get written, even though this may be a bit of a contradiction for a blog. Normally, with this lay-out, or set-up,  one’s latest production(s) are the only ones considered live, and past ones just sink downwards out of the reckoning.  To counter that a bit, I have also kept updating the copy of “Parrot Addenda” that is included in the list of items on the right hand side of the home page here. That stays put and doesn’t sink.

As a kind of interval and contrast somewhere near the middle of the collection, I have also included a lovely poem by Michael Rosen called “These are the Hands.” It was written in 2008 to celebrate the NHS. There are various fairly obvious reasons for its inclusion. Some explanation is given in the footnotes.

Incidentally, the term “rhyme royal” describes an old English verse form, introduced by Geoffrey Chaucer in the fourteenth century. It consists of stanzas of seven lines each, five beats to a line. And the rhyme scheme is as follows : ababbcc. Easy.

Chaucer himself used this verse form and in the next century, so did John Skelton in his long satire “Speak, Parrot.” (I have made my own short and contemporary version, part “translation,” of this extraordinary poem and later shortened it further into an audio-visual version, set in the top of a tower – the Tyndale Monument above North Nibley. For both versions, see the right hand column of the home page, here. Obviously, “Parrot Addenda” makes direct and constant reference to Skelton’s “Speak, Parrot” and – much less directly – to the work and life of William Tyndale. The two men were pretty well contemporaries).

Rhyme royal did not stop with Skelton.  Shakespeare used it for one of his poems and so did Wordsworth. Later still, both Yeats and WH Auden wrote poems which used this form.

Thank you to my friend Roger Chaffin for suggesting the idea of delivering myself via rhyme royal stanza !




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