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The Waste Land centenary

June 7, 2022

A hundred years – that must be some kind of Jubilee! Plutonium? Lithium? Lead?

After months of writing, research, editing and (in my case) singing to hens, twenty four writers and performers will be presenting our collaboration The Waste Land Revisited at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution on Saturday (11th June), inspired by Sue Boyle’s series of zoom explorations. Do come!

Toward the end of the afternoon I shall be reading this poem, written in January this year, from my sequence Searching for Stetson.

Tom meets the Sibyl                                   
…  a public bar in Lower Thames Street (The Waste Land, line 260)

I have a name. It’s not for you to know.
To you, young man, I am the Gipsy Queen.
And oh, dear boy, I’m chilled through to the bone.
A whisky wouldn’t go amiss. Thank you.
Come closing time I’ll be out in the rain.

So kind of you! That’s better. Liquid gold!
Show me your palm again. The other hand.
What was it, now? Oh yes, you said before,
you’re looking for a friend you thought you saw
in Lombard Street today. Wait – I can see –
dark eyes? Salt-and-pepper beard? A Greek,
or maybe Lebanese?        I’m sorry, dear.
He’s not the one. No good will come of him.
But let me see if I can find your friend.

Another whisky, quick! It clears my mind.
It brings the visions into focus.       Ah …
the seafarer you’re thinking of was drowned.
You mistook him in your eagerness.
We tend to see what we are looking for.

But you are young; your line of life is long.
You’ll travel far; this is the harbour, see?
And this the ship, and this the distant port.

Love may elude you, or deceive your heart,
but friendship is a stronger bond, I’ve found.
You’ll have all the friends you need. The star
here, in the centre of your palm, is proof.
Yes, since you ask, why not? Let’s have one more.
I’m no Sosostris, but I have the Sight.
Thank you, dear boy. You’ve a good heart. Goodnight.

Huge thanks to John Rowlands-Pritchard for his beautiful lettering.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Beau Beausoleil permalink
    June 7, 2022 10:17 pm

    Dear Ama,

    Lovely poem, it takes one so close!


  2. June 12, 2022 6:05 pm

    Thank you, dear Beau.

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