Monday, 22 December 2008

adrian mitchell

adrian mitchell has also died this week. michael rosen writes a touching obituary here. i wasn't much of a fan but i still find myself reading him from time to time. i meet him years ago and found him to be an extremely pleasant and engaging man. one of the poems he read was this one, which caused some discussion between someone from the sixties and someone who wasn't. he'll be missed.

To Whom It May Concern

I was run over by the truth one day.
Ever since the accident I've walked this way
So stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Heard the alarm clock screaming with pain,
Couldn't find myself so I went back to sleep again
So fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Every time I shut my eyes all I see is flames.
Made a marble phone book and I carved out all the names
So coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

I smell something burning, hope it's just my brains.
They're only dropping peppermints and daisy-chains
So stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Where were you at the time of the crime?
Down by the Cenotaph drinking slime
So chain my tongue with whisky
Stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

You put your bombers in, you put your conscience out,
You take the human being and you twist it all about
So scrub my skin with women
Chain my tongue with whisky
Stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

4 comments:

Sorlil said...

I've been tripping over tributes to Adrian Mitchell all over blogland and I'm ashamed to say his name doesn't even ring a bell.

The Solitary Walker said...

I think this is a wonderful poem.

I met Adrian Mitchell at various publishers' sales conferences on several occasions - and found him charismatic. When he read some of his so-called 'children's poems' grown-up, adult, hard-bitten reps practically wept.

I am very saddened by his death.

swiss said...

sorlil - mitchell, brian patten, roger mcgough and adrian henri. even my bias against all things scouse can;t prevent me from name checking them

sw - i agree re the 'children's' poems. i'd have posted the following earlier had i remembered it. his reading of it, and the back story - what a weeper!

Beatrix is Three

At the top of the stairs
I ask for her hand. O.K.
She gives it to me.
How her fist fits my palm,
A bunch of consolation.
We take our time
Down the steep carpetway
As I wish silently
That the stairs were endless.

Rachel Fox said...

We saw his 'Lion, Witch and Wardrobe' in Leeds last year. I'm not a big CSL fan but I really enjoyed Mitchell's version.

Saw him at StAnza too this year (Blake session). He was...like a character from a story full of magic. Loved him on sight!

x