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Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Immortal Lines

Soon after rousing me from my previously comatose state to a merely partial one, Radio 2, to which our clock radio alarm is tuned (do not ask why) regales me with a spot called Immortal Lines in which listeners 'phone, text or (presumably) email in their favourite immortal song lines. You may have spotted that I have purloined their title for mine own.

It has struck me a couple of times (being still in the semi-comatose condition mentioned above) that it might be interesting, entertaining - or even a giggle - if folk could be persuaded to part with their chosen immortal lines of verse. If so, the comment facility is there for your use. If not, well I have a very broad back and shall perfectly well understand that you did not feel you could indulge, yourselves not being in any sort of comatose condition.

To give you a feel of what I am on about, here are a few examples from recent broadcasts:

Someone left the cake out in the rain.

I'm celebrating my love for you
with a pint of beer and a new tattoo.

Hello lamp-post, what's your name?


Hopefully, they will have given you something of the flavour of what goes on on Radio 2. There are a couple of things to point out about these lines:

They do not have to be lines. They can be phrases, couplets, whatever.
I have not heard any source being given for them and have not recognised one as yet, so I am not willing to swear they are all genuine. Therefore, if you want to make them up or quote an immortal line from your own poetry, that will be fine. Immortal, of course, means immortal to you.

Most importantly, you should not feel it incumbent upon yourself to rise to the heights illustrated above. Something more normal will do very well, as long as it is immortal normality.

For me, the immortality of a line consists in its ability to summon up, and maybe in some sense to sum up, the poem itself.

A couple of examples:
First, from Wordsworth's Ode from his Intimations of Immortality:

Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither,


and one more, this maybe a better example, for it summons up for me, not just the poem, but a whole collection. It is from George Szirtes's The Budapest File
and from a poem entitled: Undersong

I love the city, the way it eats you up
And melts you into walls along with stone


It sends a shiver down my spine now as it did, as the whole book did, when I first read it over a decade ago. He writes hauntingly of the changes that took place both above and below ground in his native Budapest, and this quotation brings it all back for me.

Another "Haiku form"


Fast-track growing up
that is why they disappeared -
the neanderthals

20 comments:

Jim Murdoch said...

I have never hidden my admiration for Larkin’s poetry and, although my choice is a fairly predictable one, it’s one that resonates with me far more than “What will survive of us is love.”

      They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
      They may not mean to, but they do.
      They fill you with the faults they had
      And add some extra, just for you.

       (from ‘This Be The Verse’)

Dave King said...

Jim
Thanks Jim: a lovely one to get us started - and no doubt about it being immortal!

Sharon Wright said...

'Not waving, but drowning'
Stevie Smith

Sums it up for me, has haunted my whole life. I know, very predictable!
Love Jims' too, very apt.

Sarah Laurence said...

I recall hearing that “Someone left the cake out in the rain” won an award for being the worst song ever. Certainly the funniest! I love your variation.

Immortal verse:
“Do I dare to eat a peach?” –TS Eliot, The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock.

Mairi said...

Given the number of times I've quoted Jim's choice to various and sundry I should choose it but he's already done the honours so -
"... I have measured out my life with coffee spoons." Prufrock obviously speaks to something in us as Sarah has already quoted from it.

"Kisses are,- the only worth all granting."

A person could choose hundreds, but these two came to mind.

As for the radio two selections, definitely all real, but the lampost was seriously misquoted. It''s much more profound, not to say immortal, in the original.

MacArthur Park
Greetings to the New Brunette
The 59th Street Bridge Song -Hello lamppost,What cha knowing?

The Weaver of Grass said...

Immortal lines eh?

My friend, who has reached 70 and is constantly worried that she is going ga-ga because she keeps losing things etc. I keep reassuring her that we all do it.

However - I now tell her that I am seriously worried about her mental state because two nights ago she got up in the middle of the night to make herself a cup of tea. There was a saucepan on the draining board so she lifted the lid to see if there was anything in it. She then tells me that she uttered these immortal lines,
"Hello, little potato - did I forget to eat you at supper time?"
Without waiting for a reply she ate it!

Madame DeFarge said...

Liked the haiku. I rather wish we still had Neanderthals. They'd add some colour to our drab lives.

Cloudia said...

Aloha from Waikiki :)

Comfort Spiral

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Theodore Daniel Richards said...

Carl Solomon! I'm with you in Rockland where we are great writers on the same dreadful typewriter

A. Ginsberg from Howl

Dave King said...

Sharon
Can't disagree with that! I think it helps to show, though, how diverse are the reasons for lines being immortal.

Sarah
Ah, now you're talking, though I might have chosen: I have measured out my life in coffee sponns.

Mairi
Thanks for the comments and also for the correction. It does go a long way towards restoring belief in what is being said.

I agree that Prifrock speaks to something in us.

Weaver
I spent ages last evening looking for my specs. I found them this moring - in their case. Does that count?

I go for your line, I really do!

Madame DeFarge
That's quite a thought. Yes, I agree a few Neanderthals would liven the place up a bit, wouldn't they? Maybe some could stand for parliament... they'd fit in very well there.

Cloudia
Thanks for that - I think! Is it a form of bady language?

Theodore
Yup, great!

Dave King said...

Cloudia
Sorry for the typo. I meant body language!

A Cuban In London said...

I didn't know about the Radio 2 project but I was acquainted with the Wordsworth poem and you're right, those lines do sum up pretty well what the poem is about. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Kass said...

So many immortal lines....

From Mary Oliver's Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Linda Sue said...

This post sets off all sorts of sparks in my brain! Crazy lyrics crowding their way out through my forehead landing in a pile in front of me like a jumble of words making no sense whatsoever.
Scuse me while I kiss the sky...

Jingle said...

beautiful words...

Jingle said...

http://jingleyanqiu.wordpress.com/2010/11/17/thursday-poets-rally-week-33-november-18-24/


Welcome attending poets rally week 33, link in a poem, visit 18 poets, done,
Poetry awards assigned upon completion.
Happy Friday!
Thanks in advance for the attention!
xxx

Dave King said...

A Cuban in London
Hi Cuban, good to hear from you. Thanks for the feedback - always welcome.

Kass
Yup, that does it, I guess. The sentiment is unarguable. Thanks.

Linda Sue
Go right ahead, be my guest!

Jingle
Thanks for both.

Helen said...

Oh no, I've said too much .. I haven't said enough

Love that line from R.E.M.'s 'Losing My Religion'

kathew said...

"Life is a banquet and most porr suckers are starving to death"

Auntie Mame played by Rosalind Russell in my favorite movie

Lovely Bushra said...

i love this Post….!!!
its is so awesum…….i ws lost in a trance while i ws readin it……
gr8 wrk !!!!

source: Love Poems