Friday, May 1, 2009

A tribute to U A Fanthorpe, 1929-2009

The death was announced today of the poet U A Fanthorpe. Ursula Askham Fanthorpe (though she was always known as U A) is one of the most brilliant British poets of the past 50 years. She was tipped at one point to be the first female Poet Laureate and was the first woman in 315 years to be nominated as Oxford professor of poetry. (What a benighted country this is!)
Anyway, I first discovered U A Fanthorpe's poetry thanks to Germaine Greer and her Poems for Gardeners anthology. I thought I'd reproduce my favourite for you, because it just seems incredibly appropriate. Reproducing it is probably illegal, but here goes.

May 8th: How to recognise it
The tulips have finished their showy conversation.
Night's officers came briefly to report,
And took their heads off.

The limes have a look of someone
Who has been silent for a very long time,
And is about to say a very good thing.

Roses grow taller, leafier,
Duller. They have star parts.
Like great actors, they hang about humbly in the wings.

On the lawn, daisies sustain their candid
Childish shout. Hippy dandelions are stoned
Out of their golden minds. And always

The rub-a-dub-dub recapitulation
Of grass blades growing. The plum tree is resting
Between blossom and fruit. Like a poker-player,

She doesn't show her hand. Daffodils
Are a matter of graceless brown leaves and rubber bands.
Wallflowers have turned bony.

This is not the shining childhood of spring,
But its homely adolescence, angular, hypothetical.
How one regrets the blue fingertips staggering
Up from the still dank earth.