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Tony Grist

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Not An Elegy [Nov. 23rd, 2008|11:54 am]
Tony Grist
This poem is related to the last one I posted. It was written a few years later- and belongs to my "angry" phase. The anger is something I now longer feel entirely comfortable with. These days- insofar as I care one way or the other- I'm sorry rather than pleased that the Church had to sell its pretty, Jacobean retreat house to a footballer.



Seen from the air, in this online photo

The hills look like nothing, like ripples in sand,

But me, I’ve climbed ‘em. I’ve weaved and I’ve wended

From valley to valley. I know they can kill you.

I once had them try.  The day is yellow

With inky blue cloud shadows speeding off east.


I point at a gap in the boskage, “And that,

Is Crawshawbooth.” It’s a smear of brightness.


“Phil Neville’s place ?”


                                      “Well no, the retreat house-

My faith took sick  there.”


                                      “It’s  been sold on.

He’s cut the big trees down to let in light.

The whole of Man United came

To his housewarming party. The limos and sports cars

Were bumper to bumper.”


                                      (I’m stood with the others

Under the grimy old plaster-work ceiling

With pendulous knobs, and the Bishop of Manchester,

Dead now, says,  “The body of Christ”

And places  the host on my tongue and I’m praying

“Dear God, just for once let this not make me think

Of fellatio.”)


                             Well, the things I grew up with

Are passing away. This is just one instance.


Out go the parsons and in comes the shining

Great swarm of the footballing Joes with their gals

And celebrity pals.  It makes me so glad.


[User Picture]From: frumiousb
2008-11-23 01:09 pm (UTC)
I can imagine that it makes you uncomfortable, now. But I have to say that it's a really strong poem-- quite good, I think.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-11-23 01:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

The important thing is that- no matter what I feel or think now- it was true at the time.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2008-11-23 03:12 pm (UTC)
Anger has its place and it's what you felt at the time.
It's actually more cynical than angry.
I like that.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-11-23 03:58 pm (UTC)
Sometimes you have to get angry- or cynical- to progress. To be continually angry and/or cynical would be soul-destroying.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2008-11-23 04:11 pm (UTC)
Of course!
But at the time it was right and you have evolved.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-11-23 04:55 pm (UTC)
And that's what life is all about.
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[User Picture]From: brttvns
2008-11-23 04:08 pm (UTC)

Very strong again!

I must admit to smiling at the 'fellatio' line.
Do you still write on a regular basis, and have you ever attempted or ever been published?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-11-23 04:54 pm (UTC)

Re: Very strong again!


I've got a lot of credits in magazines, large and small, but I gave up trying to make a career several years back. I suspect I reach a larger, wider audience by "publishing" here on the Net than I ever did before.

I still write the occasional poem. They come when they're ready to come. I don't force the issue.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2008-11-23 07:12 pm (UTC)
I used to go on Christain retreat to Orton Hall in Cumbria. It's now a posh hotel, so I suppose I could retreat back there some day!

memories, huh?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-11-24 09:55 am (UTC)
Crawshawbooth was basically Jacobean, with Victorian additions. It was built on the side of the moor, with woods at the back of it. A lovely place. I'm using the past tense but I suppose it's still very much as it was.
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[User Picture]From: ideealisme
2008-11-23 07:22 pm (UTC)
I like this!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-11-24 09:55 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2008-11-23 09:45 pm (UTC)
A former retreat house at Thames is now the home of Dwina and Robin Gibb, so Phil Neville's not alone.

Excellent poem. if you've now gone on to feel differently, fair enough, but the poem's still good.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-11-24 09:57 am (UTC)
It's a sign of the times that the poor old Church of England can't afford to maintain these places any more.

I'm glad you like it. I do too- even though I cringe slightly at some of the things it says.
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