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22 Apr 2004

Some Contrasts about Lying in Bed.

Written by sally @ 8:20 am — Section: sally

I know, I know, y’all are getting sick of National Poetry Month. With only 9 glorious days left, I’m going to have to step it up a notch.

I came upon this first poem today. I’ve never read it before, and I think it’s sweet. It reminded me of another poem, which is not so sweet. The setting of the poem is the same physical location, but obviously in two different stages of the relationship. In turn, the poems reminded me of a song.

Note: the act of being reminded of something is exactly what poems (and fiction, and drama, and essays, and everything else you read) are supposed to do. What would be the point of reading something if you didn’t think, wow, I can relate to that, that reminds me of my old boyfriend Clyde, this sounds like that other poem I just read, this Gabriel Garcia Marquez story is just like that episode of Northern Exposure where the frozen French guy encased in ice comes barrelling down the river?

So anyway. Here are the two poems and the song.

First Early Mornings Together
Robert Pinsky

Waking up over the candy store together
We hear birds waking up below the sill
And slowly recognize ourselves, the weather,
The time, and the birds that rustle there until

Down to the street as fog and quiet lift
The pigeons from the wrinkled awning flutter
To reconnoiter, mutter, stare and shift
Pecking by ones or twos the rainbowed gutter.

Talking in Bed
Phillip Larkin

Talking in bed ought to be easiest
Lying together there goes back so far
An emblem of two people being honest.

Yet more and more times passes silently.
Outside the wind’s incomplete unrest
builds and disperses clouds about the sky.

And dark towns heap up on the horizon.
None of this cares for us. Nothing shows why
At this unique distance from isolation

It becomes still more difficult to find
Words at once true and kind
Or not untrue and not unkind.

Greetings To the New Brunette (Shirley)
Billy Bragg

Shirley, it’s quite exciting to be sleeping here in this new room
Shirley, you’re my reason to get out of bed before noon
Shirley, you know when we sat out on the fire escape talking
Shirley, what did you say about running before we were walking

Sometimes when we’re as close as this
It’s like we’re in a dream
How can you lie there and think of England
When you don’t even know who’s in the team

Shirley, your sexual politics have left me all of a muddle
Shirley, we are joined in the ideological cuddle

I’m celebrating my love for you
With a pint of beer and a new tattoo
And if you haven’t noticed yet
I’m more impressionable when my cement is wet

Politics and pregnancy
Are debated as we empty our glasses
And how I love those evening classes

Shirley, you really know how to make a young man angry
Shirley, can we get through the night without mentioning family

The people from your church agree
It’s not much of a career
Trying the handles of parked cars
Whoops, there goes another year
Whoops, there goes another pint of beer

Here we are in our summer years
Living on icecream and chocolate kisses
Would the leaves fall from the trees
If I was your old man and you were my missus

Shirley, give my greetings to the new brunette

9 Responses to “Some Contrasts about Lying in Bed.”

  1. Agent McClacho said:

    I’m djing right now, and was thinking (before I even read this) of playing Billy Bragg. Great song.

  2. herman rarebell said:

    you’re djing at 8:31 a.m.? do the rave kids like billy bragg?

  3. Sally said:

    Dur, on the radio, Herman.

  4. Kicker of Elves said:

    That Larkin poem is the bomb, better overall than the Pinsky. The last two lines are especially clever (and not a little Stevensian). Ironically, I’ve been thinking of posting one of Larkin’s best poems, “Church-Going,” as part of NPM. And while any Bragg at all is a good thing, I doubt he’ll ever improve upon “And if you haven’t noticed yet/I’m more impressionable when my cement is wet.” Those are two of the best lines ever.

  5. Sally said:

    The Larkin poem IS much better, I agree. It hangs on the wall of my cube next to my computer. I read it every day.

    My favorite line is “None of this cares for us.”

  6. vendela said:

    “none of this cares for us” reminds me of one of my favorite anne sexton lines “i am watercolor. i wash off.”

  7. Agent McClacho said:

    actually that clock was off. I djed from 10-12pm. I played Billy Bragg after 11. I’m not too concerned about what the ravers think. No matter how hard I try to keep up the pace, my show is generally slow.

  8. Agent McClacho said:

    oh, yeah. sally’s right. i was on the radio

  9. Kicker of Elves said:

    Speaking of people in bed, poetry, etc., B. Bragg has another tremendous pair of lines dealing with this same subject, from “Must I Paint You a Picture?” (off the Worker’s Playtime album):

    “Most important decisions in life/Are made between two people in bed.”

    The next line, in the vein of Larkin, is “I found that out at my expense.” Ouch.