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A Victorian Cemetery

Gavin Ewart, 17 December 1981

... Bony skeletons in coffinwood, some of them bad, some of them good, all of them silent, stretched out straight, hope to get in at Heaven’s Gate. Some had breasts to drive men wild or (more important) to feed a child; some had redhead cocks, to crow; now they lie there, row by row. Everything soft has drained away, hard and simple till Judgment Day they lie still in their mouldered shrouds, under the sun and rain and clouds ...

An old person reflects on love

Gavin Ewart, 18 August 1983

... Those who said that they loved us are terribly dead                  or not quite right in the head or they went missing thirty years after the last passionate kissing, gone, with no phone calls or letters; with other mates;            you could say they were now dates only in history, vanished so far that they’re not even a mystery ...

The Novels of Beryl Bainbridge

Gavin Ewart, 22 February 1990

... If you’re a man in a book by Beryl, believe me, you’re in very great peril! Unsure of purpose, weak and wobbly, or stern and strong, small bum, knees knobbly, Accidental-On-Purpose Death before the end will stop your breath! You’ll find it’s a girl who’s the great Prime Mover when your Fate sucks you in like a ghastly Hoover. Wolves are around in girl-sheep apparel (just one girl once ended up in a barrel ...

Tallness is all

Gavin Ewart, 17 October 1985

... Pope and Keats were nothings, only two feet high – all the enormous Sitwells were towering to the sky. Edith once told Bottrall physical size was all – miniature masterpieces weren’t on, by anybody small! All long, or little, poems by Thwaite or Taner Baybars are bound to be a waste of time and, you might say, lost labours. No chance for midget madrigals – the Muse abhors dwarf dwellings ...

‘Family in Terror of an Evil Spirit’

Gavin Ewart, 10 December 1987

... suspected, giving out horrible threats, throwing dogs! In a wee while, will it scarper? Reverend Stewart Lamont says that it’s quite paranormal, these wee phenomena last for a couple of years, then they ...

Dickens and I*

Gavin Ewart, 20 November 1980

... After a reading in a Derbyshire school, the fifteens and the sixteen-year-olds are clustering round me (no fool like an old fool), the clevers, the athletics, the shys, the bolds, for me to sign their poem-photostats; I write ‘Best wishes to Clare; John; Clive; Maureen.’ These are their souvenirs – Bard Rock, Hippocrene beer mats – xeroxed to help them sort out what I mean, like worksheets ...

Two Poems

Gavin Ewart, 23 May 1991

... A Place in the Hierarchy Anybody can easily see that Auden is cleverer than me, and likewise Professor Dodds or even Joseph Brods-                                       ky! And the talents that the Fates once handed out to Yeats must make me seem a wimp and very lowgrade simp-                                           ly! High Art is not quite my scene, I am more a might-have-been, a sow’s ear, not a silk, and far below great Rilk-                                           e! I’m flatter, some think, than a quiche but still I have my own small niche; and, with luck, I can bend your ear like Stephen Spend-                                                 er! The Function of Pets In many households the pets are the only things they talk about, holding the family together so that the husband doesn’t go walkabout ...

Sevens for Gavin Ewart (1916-1995)

Alan Brownjohn, 4 January 1996

... in the doorway In cloak and hat as if he was some part    Of the performance. Our memories, Gavin, Will retain your own appearances at parties,    Standing, as you preferred, in some quieter corner – Forever Ewart’s! The last time we talked at one,    It was prosody, New Verse, and the Café Royal We ...

Two Poems

Gavin Ewart, 21 May 1981

... Violent Passions The mouth can be quite nasty in a bite The lover’s pinch can be malicious too Legs kick, as well as tangle, in a bed Words can be harsh and not console or rhyme Fighting is also love’s especial food Hands can enlace with hands or round a neck The tools that pierce can be unyielding steel Attractive nails can score, like claws, the face Fingers can spread on cheeks, harmful and strong Hair can be pulled in war, that’s stroked in peace The fighting female differs from the male The spitting cat attacks the barking dog Traditional: Nuisance Value The cat jumps onto my desk as I write this, he jogs my arm ...

‘John Betjeman: A Life in Pictures’

Gavin Ewart, 6 December 1984

... When I see yet another work of hagiography concerning Sir John Betjeman, it makes me want to vomit! Show me, I want to say, please, the ‘geography’ of the house!1 But Betjeman wasn’t nasty, in fact very far from it. It’s probably the Murrays who are such penny-turners (Byron’s one was a Philistine). John’s an important asset, one of the few real genuine poetic earners,2 man not mouse, in many a crowd-pulling, wide, populist facet ...

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