Thursday, October 7, 2010
Today is National Poetry Day and, for shame, it nearly slipped by me.
Calendars generally inform us of these (important?) days, but I don't think I've ever celebrated anything but the standards - Christmas, Easter, Valentines day, Father's day. To be honest, they annoy me - I hate being pressurised to conform, and to buy presents. Wouldn't it be nice to celebrate all the lesser known days instead? I could see that actually enriching people's lives, instead of just being another greeting card sales ploy (bah, humbug!)
This month, for example, is Black History Month in the U.K. It highlights African and Caribbean history and heritage, and promotes a greater understanding of the UK's diverse cultural heritage.
It's also International Walk to School Month (although I can safely say this does not inspire me to walk anywhere).
But one thing I can do is share a piece of writing with you.
THE BALLAD OF THE SAD YOUNG MEN
Sing a song of sad young men, glasses full of rye.
All the news is bad again, kiss your dreams goodbye.
All the sad young men sitting in the bars,
Knowing neon nights, missing all the stars.
All the sad young men drifting through the town,
Drinking up the night, trying not to drown.
All the sad young men singing in the cold,
Trying to forget that they're growing old.
All the sad young men choking on their youth,
Trying to be brave, running from the truth.
Autumm turns the leaves to gold, slowly dies the heart
Sad young men are growing old, that's the cruelest part.
All the sad young men seek a certain smile
Someone they can hold for a little while.
Tired little girl does the best she can
Trying to be gay for a sad young man.
While the grimy moon watches from above
All the sad young men play at making love.
Misbegotten moon, shine for sad young men.
Let your gentle light guide them home again.
All the sad young men.
- FRAN LANDESMAN
I read this when I was a teenager, in a volume of poetry, and it stayed with me ever since. It made me sad to think of all these men who were feeling so empty inside, and who weren't able to communicate it. But what's interesting is that when I posted the poem, a guy read it and proclaimed that it was written by a man-basher...! When I read back over it, I could see what he meant (though I think 'man basher' is a bit harsh!)
So: a romanticisation of masculinity, a homage to men's secret hearts, or a condescending ode to "boys"... what do you think?