Not cricket

Jan. 8th, 2011 07:42 pm
pallas_athena: (Default)
[personal profile] pallas_athena
Looking back on it, yesterday's poem seems like a lazily obvious choice. Anyone know any better cricket-related poems?

Also, I should confess that I really hate Henry Newbolt. This is not entirely Newbolt's fault (though his tendency towards horrible sub-Kipling bombast doesn't help.)

I fucking loathe Newbolt largely because of the guy who introduced me to his work.

I like to learn from people. One time, I made the mistake of dating a guy who had to be right all the time. I was relatively fresh-off-the-boat then, and this fellow made it his mission to teach me about British culture. Well and good: except that he went about it in this kind of superior Pygmalion-syndrome way, and when I acquired enough knowledge to argue with him about things, being disagreed with made him go all huffy. You know the type? Yeah. That type.

I was mid-English degree at the time, while he was studying music, so he was positively jocular when he found he knew a poet that I didn't. For a couple of weeks, all I heard about was how Henry Newbolt was the greatest thing ever. Including having it read out to me amid proclamations of how moved he was. Having a significant other who reads you poetry is a good thing, right? Not when it's Newbolt, it fucking isn't.

So it turns out the reason I hadn't heard of Newbolt was that English tutors don't generally bother with him because he sucks so hard. If I'd specialised in that period, I'd probably have encountered him at some point, but thank all the gods, I did not. It was bad enough having to read Matthew Arnold, another poet who gets all slobberingly sentimental over his public-school days. But he gets away with it because he is a better poet than Newbolt. Then again, my butt is a better poet than Newbolt. So there's that.

In conclusion: Newbolt sucks; my judgement sucked for having dated that guy; and if anyone you're dating ever comes over all smug and superior, then no matter how crazy-in-love with them you are, it's time to hit them over the head with something heavy and and leave them to be devoured by coyotes. Trust me. It's for the best.

on 2011-01-08 07:47 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Having anyone read poetry to me sends me into frenzies of rage, but that does sound like a justifiable reason to go nuclear... Ick!

on 2011-01-09 04:36 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Haha. I am so going to read poetry to you when we next meet. (But not Newbolt, because I have some taste.)

Ick, is right.

on 2011-01-08 08:18 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
There is a surprisingly large amount of poetry, and other lit., about cricket, but after "Ten to win and the last man in", Francis Thompson's At Lord's is probably the best known, and fortunately it really is wonderful. The first verse is the best known:

It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk,
Though my own red roses there may blow;
It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk,
Though the red roses crest the caps, I know.
For the field is full of shades as I near a shadowy coast,
And a ghostly batsman plays to the bowling of a ghost,
And I look through my tears on a soundless-clapping host
As the run stealers flicker to and fro,
To and fro:
O my Hornby and my Barlow long ago !

There's also a fair amount of cricket music.

on 2011-01-09 02:55 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
That's a lovely poem! Thank you for the link.

on 2011-01-09 04:45 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I quite like Newbolt in a sort of tongue-in-cheek steampunk way. You've got to love that mindless comical flag-waving blinkered view of the world... so long as it is with your tongue firmly in your cheek. Anyone that treats it seriously or thinks that his work is anything other than doggerel is probably in trouble though!

And as for cricket poetry, do lyrics count? Back when I was young and stupid I would see 'Blyth Power' thirty-odd times a year, now I try to catch them once every few years. Lyrically they are amazing and so damn British with their folk-punk songs with references to history, steam engines and the holy (but deadly boring) sport of cricket - like this:

or this:

on 2011-01-10 12:57 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
If the wild bowler thinks he bowls,
Or if the batsman thinks he's bowled,
They know not, poor misguided souls,
They too shall perish unconsoled.
I am the batsman and the bat,
I am the bowler and the ball,
The umpire, the pavilion cat,
The roller, pitch, and stumps, and all.

Whilst trying to remember the metadata for that (Andrew Lang, it turns out - and yes, that Lang) I discovered that Wikipedia has a page for cricket poetry.

on 2011-01-10 10:00 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I agree so completely with everything said above that I feel I cannot even add anything to it, except to say that we must meet so that we can diss bad poetry and bad men in person!


pallas_athena: (Default)

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