Monday, January 28, 2013

A man and his "goddam verses"


He stands to read the title poem of News of the World:

Cold shuttered loveless star, skulker in clouds,
            Streetwalker of the sky,
Where can you hide? –

Here Barker breaks off and says in his surprisingly plummy voice: “If you want utter pretentiosity, you can’t get better than that.”  The audience laughs uneasily.  He tries again:

In the first year of the last disgrace,
            Peace, turning her face away –

before breaking off once more: “What kind of shit is this?”  The whole thing is so absurd.  I loathe this, don’t you?  It’s absolutely ghastly.  I know nothing is as ridiculous as a man standing up here, reading goddam verses.”  By now the audience is loving it.  Barker continues: “I have to earn my goddam forty quid, so I’ll read a goddam poem.  It’s called ‘At the Wake of Dylan Thomas.’”  This time he manages.

-- J.C., remembering George Granville Barker, in the TLS

1 comment:

Annie Finch said...

!!!Been there. Beautiful.