On the fifth day we were asked to take the form of an existing poem and create something new in its initial imprint, I chose one of my all-time favourites, Auden’s Stop All the Clocks. I have tried to turn Auden’s blues on its head.
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
Strike up the band, and conduct with a megaphone,
Permit the hounds to holler all the long way home,
Start the revelry and with joyous heart,
Bury not the memories but let the party start.
Lofty jets with blazing contrails the sky should fill,
Stanzas, cloud-cast; proclaim, they live on still.
Paint rainbows high above Trafalgar square,
License laughter and lewdness if you dare.
Here sat my joy, my love, my life
Mon ami, mon amour, my man or wife,
Make up nouns to round each rhyming line;
It matters not, I know the love they felt was mine.
Take the glory of life, and make it gleam.
Pen tributes so strong, they will swim upstream.
Pervade each moment, each hour, each day as if your last.
Furnish your present, with a love-filled past.