Making Poetry

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So here I am writing a blog on the 23rd May, 2017. Tinky are just back from Arran, where we headlined a good days music in an extremely beautiful part of the world. Corrie is gorgeous, a wee strip of houses facing the Scottish west coast across the Clyde.  The gig was at the village hall, & the camping was all about it & even by the beach : an amazing place & a jolly good romp.

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Suffice it to say, out of Tinky’s seven members 5 of them stayed up all night – but none of these were me. Yes, I got some kip & even gave that half a pill in my pocket back to the guy who gave it me when I woke up in the morning. Things are different & seeing as I’m a driver I stayed sober & got Kate, Roy & Steve back to Edinburgh. Tinky are on at Eden in a few weeks, so things are ticking along nicely.

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Literary-wise I’m working hard on some books. I took the the Burnliad down to Burnley & got my photo in the Burnley Express. It was cool being home, down to the fact we had a family in room in the Oaks Hotel & the girls loved the pool. Its like the Oaks is gonna be my house in Burnley from now on. I’ve made it , innit. We also saw Nicky for some amateur dramatics & co & in sisterworld it was wee Jacob’s fifth birthday party. I even managed to sell a book to a Burnley badge-seller outside Turf Moor! A small, but significant step.

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At the moment I’m just bursting with ideas; the new language….  the Menalean hypochisp in the Homeric Answer… filming Alibi with the new band camera… rewrite MacPherson’s Fingal from the original Gaelic fragments… compose an American epic called Stars & Stripes, showing how amazing George Washington was & show dumb Trump is… an new essay based on Wordsworth’s composition of the Cottagers – a perfect example of how poetry is made… a chronological account of Keats’ Scottish journal.

Roxy's 8th @ The Kilted Lobster, Stockbridge
Roxy’s 8th @ The Kilted Lobster, Stockbridge

I’m also reading through my ‘Epistles to Posterity,’ samples of my journals & blogs which I will be Publishing soon. Then there is the poetry which I intend to close out The Silver Rose with. I am currently writing in tandem my wolf poem & my ‘Honeymoon’ mirror-poem to the Grand Tour. This afternoon I took a long walk through the Lammermuirs, disturbing the nesting curlews, treading the grassy sheep tracks & loving the whole scene. On the walk I completed stanzas 19 & 20 (out of 55) of the Honeymoon, & also poem 10 (out of 24) of the Wolf poem, so I’m getting there.

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These weeks pass’d & to come are highly interesting for my poetic art. Its been a while since I’ve plateauxed into a period of composition, & although it seems to be taking more effort to craft my lines, my Apollonian, the end results are rather pleasing still. I’ve still got it I guess. Having a car is also quite liberating as I can compose in various places & moods. I have written honeymoon stanzas on the river walk to Bolton from Gifford. I have written wolf stanzas on the amazing walk around the Garleton Hills above Haddington. Indeed, this latter place – the veritable epicenter of East Lothian – is somewhere Ive fallen in love with. I’d love to live there; two ruined castles, golden gorse, craggy outposts, supreme visions of sea & distant Edinburgh. Lets see what the future brings…

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Update May 2017

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Yesterday I woke up under Ben Cruachan in the car. I was gonna climb it, but I couldn’t see it because of the hoary mist, so I drove back home instead. I didn’t really mind as it had been a wonderful drive the day before, up to Glen Coe & down Glen Etive where the road abruptly ended. So I went on a big circular drive & ended u[p at Bonawe, where I couldn’t catch the ferry to Tynuilt anymore, as it had stopped  a few years ago.  Over the two days I picked up my first ever hitchers – a young German couple on their gap year & a guy called Howard who needed to get to Killin to get some gout medicine. Of course I sympathised massively.

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Anyway, Burnley won away at Crystal Palace the other, which all but seals their return to the premier league. To celebrate, I finished No Nay Never off finally & collected it along with The Ballad of Pendle Hill & a chispological survey of Brunanburh in a book called THE BURNLIAD. This is the 4th release this year, after the Scotiad, Axis & Allies & the Chisper Effect, all of which can be bought via Completely Novel. This weekend I’m off to Burnley for Jacob’s birthday party, & on the Monday have in interview with the Burnley Express, where they want to take a photo of me holding the book.

front    READ A SAMPLE OF THE BOOK & BUY A COPY HERE

 

front    READ A SAMPLE OF THE BOOK & BUY A COPY HERE

front   READ A SAMPLE OF THE BOOK & BUY A COPY HERE

front   READ A SAMPLE OF THE BOOK & BUY A COPY HERE

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Also nearly ready to go is the new Tinky Disco album, Tink A Lickle. Its been quite a journey, as I felt out with the producer in Glasgow (another greedy geezer) & so weve had to try & work some magic on the singlemix rough wavs – but I think we’ve done it thanks to Victor Pope. The musics gonna be used in the next set of episodes of the Tinky Disco Show, which we’ll be filming in a couple of weeks, culminating in a headline slot on Arran. Unfortunately Kenny was a massive nob’ed a couple of weeks ago & Ive thrown him out of the band; to which decision none of the rest of the Tinky members put up any iota of resistance. It sounds like we mean business.

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So all is well &, a few weeks shy of 41, Im still composing poetry. I’m also doing a bit of gardening with the help of my neighbours. One of them actually died last week – Jimmy, he was 85. A sound lad, but starved off conversation he was always nipping his head over for a chat. Well, he was a full of old stories – a commando in the Korean war kinda vibe. Anyway, I said to him one day this summer I’ll film his tales with a  camcorder for posterity. Too late now, though, he’d dead, & a real reminder to seize the day & get some work done. So, the next release is my epistles to posterity, which I’ve got down to about 600 pages at the moment, & after that I’ll be publishing The Silver Rose : at last. Ive still got some composition to do over the next month or so, but now everything is neatly laid out. I’ve got just over 40 quatrains of the Honeymoon poem to compose, & 18 free verse poems to create about my last wolf of Scotland poem, which after 3 years is finally being done. That was why I drove north actually, because I decided Cruachan would be the birthben of the wolf. This free verse is also forming the materielle for my last burst of essay writing, which I shall be doing on our summer holiday in Crete. I intend to write a series of essays, summing up my poetic contributions to the art; which shall be;

Translating Thirukurral : the story of the translation, including its recent transformation into Humanology

The Sonneverse : My ideas on the sonnet & its sequanzas

Formal Free Verse : The standardization of Free Verse

The Tryptych : A wee essay on my stanza & its creation

The New Republic :  A Plato-style description of the Bardic College & its uses in society & how voter reform would work

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Forest Fenn’s Treasure : A Near-Hit

So I was wrong. Last summer I thought I’d solved the mystery of Forest Fenn’s buried treasure. So did a couple of young film-makers from Washington DC, who went on to make this lovely-looking film.

They did actually look around the natural cave at Clear Creek, to no avail. So I was wrong, but they didnt keep any dialogue  open with me & moved on to another location. But if they’d have contacted me from Wyoming,  I would have said, well guys, if its not in the natural cave, it really does have to be in a nearby wood. I would have also said ‘I must admit there was one clue which i left out, that the chest was’exposed’ to rain and snow, and could be scorched in a forest fire, which didnt quite fit into clear creek cave – sorry about that – but i just ignored it cos i was so excited about all the other clues – i was imagining flames licking into the cave for example to scorch the chest- but he does say in the wood, so..

The wood is described on a  web page. which reads, ‘about a half mile from the Slide Creek junction, our trail cuts across the northwest edge of the meadow through an open grassy area filled with wildflowers. You can find blue harebells, cinquefoil, yarrow, subalpine daisy and a variety of other colorful flowers. Beyond here, the trail enters the charred burns of an old lightning burn from 1988. These old snags provide wildlife habitat for many wildlife species including a variety of woodpeckers and cavity-nesting birds.’ So. I was too obsessed with the natural cave, the chest being wet  & the fact you had to go in it really blinded me. However, a chest hidden in or by Clear Creek in the charred burny bit of the woods now fits all of the clues entirely. I also love the fact that it was in 1988 that Fenn was struck by kidney caner (which he eventually beat).

The wood struck by lightning is bottom central of picture
The wood struck by lightning is at the bottom centre of the photo

There’s also this turned up recently which negates the pinion pine clue. Fenn wrote, ‘I just watched that New Mexico Tourism video again and must say that I didn’t say what I was thinking. You cannot smell a pinon nut, but those who pick them know that in doing so you get pine pitch all over your hands, and pine pitch smells about the same no matter what kind of pine tree you are talking about. Looking back I think I wanted to say I could smell pine needles, not pinon nuts. Sorry I kicked a hornet’s nest with that comment. There is no clue there. Incidentally, when I get pine pitch on my hands I rub butter on the spots and that solves the problem. Of course then I have trouble getting the butter off.’ Some have thought the treasure cant be in Wyoming as Pinion Pines don’t grow that far north – but we can now see that info is not relevant.

Three Poems

The past week has trundled along with a great pleasancy. The Mumble was busy, The Tinky Disco Show is almost edited & finally there was Spud’s 50th, which was all jolly good fun. It was a surprise do down Leith Cricket Club, with Erb & Ting doing their bit, & Ben djing, & Victor Pope  & that – it was a big gang night oot.

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Back in the creative world, Im not far off finishing the new language, plus The Chisper Effect should be finished this week – I might even drive up to Aberdeenshire this week to take some photos. Also in the pipeline are 3 bits of Springtime poetry composition. The Honeymoon is the elder-sister poem to The Grand Tour,  & blends my holidays with Emily last year to Italy, Paris & Seattle. I’m also shaping up to complete No Nay Never,  & if Burnley stay up this season , which is looking likely, then it’ll be a great ending for the poem. The third piece is also gonna be interesting, but I don’t wanna rattle on too much about it yet. It feels good to be composing again, I am a poet & this is my natural state, & there is nothing like a Keatsian spring to rouse the sensibilities.

A Cultural Curry

 

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Its been a while since I wrote a blog, but the last few days have provided an interesting slice into my life. Last week I sent out a link to various poetry people across the world, offering to send out a free copy of Axis & Allies which I uploaded onto Completely Novel.
Its the second release of my Pendragon Collection, a ten volume set incorporating a great deal of my work thus far. Not much interest, of course, & it would be while visiting StAnza poetry festival a few days later. That was one of several cultural events I attended & reviewed since last Tuesday. Two operas, a play, a classical concert & whole heap of poetry has been served up into my psyche for absorbing & assessment, & i the process, of course, my poesis banks have been filling up.

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Last Tuesday there was Edinburgh Studio Opera’s Marriage of Figaro, while Wednesday afternoon saw me drive through to Glasgow to catch a Play, Pie & a Pint set in a dominatrix sex pad. After this I wrote the review & then went up to Colin’s who proceeded to fill me in on his retirement plans in India – setting up a Casteaway creative arts space – with Irene selling haggis for £20 to Indians not happy with Colin’s ‘git tae fuck’ attitude to his caste-free policy. There was also something about a machine wandering the villages of Kerala changing coconut husks to charcoal, some of which he’d use as a smokie.  ‘Your creative arts space will be like a cultural hot-pot,’ I said, ‘nah Damo, a cultural curry.’ After a couple of hours with Colin I drove back into Glasgow for Peleas & Melisande, an opera at the Theatre Royal. Driving back at night I began to muse on Axis & Allies, & skimmed though it on my return home, noticing a few mistakes here & there, including repeated stanzas, a gnawing worry for my sleepdrift.  Next day I spent in St Andrews, at StAnza, an account of which you can read here, & it was in the early hours of the next morning that I corrected my Axis & Allies errors, pretty much finalising the book. I think, perhaps, I’ll print it out in the summer for a perusal while we are in Thalian Crete. The filling poesis banks also helped me to focus on creating moderen musical, mult-muse masques for Charlies & Malmaison & maybe others for next year.

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This week has also seen a great deal of progress in my as yet un-named universal language. Listening to the opera, well reading the subtitles more like, gave me a bit more vocab & the new poesis helps fire my mind into organising it all. There’s to be about 500 word, not enough for detailed conversation, but complex & flexible enough for most everyday situations. Combining words can also be possible – such as arm-joint being elbow & leg-joint being knee. The creation of a language – which is the raison d’eter of all poets really – also ties in with my approbriation of the Pendragon title. For me, it will be up to my successor to introduce a new letter & the vocab surrounding it, & thus the language may evolve slowly & surely as these things ought to.

Friday & Saturday were spent writing reviews up, driving aboot & then saturday night heading back to St Andrews with the wife, an account of which you can read here. During the week Emily had also been hacked somehow & via air B&B & Paypal lost £833 quid to some Russian. She got the money back, but the whole thing was funnily timed cos the tangerine nightmare is suddenly in the middle of the throes of a scandal involving Russian hacking. Other things of note in the week were me & climbing a hill — well Arthur’s Seat, but it got him out of the house – I even let him drive the car a bit along the one-way circuit about the slopes.  I’ve also begun editing the Tinky Disco Show, with Steve. I’d filmed the band with a loose storyline recently, & the final format is gonna be a four-part series; Episode 1 – Rise o’ The Tink / Episode 2 – Kenny Beards / Episode 3 – Pond Life / Episode 4 – ????

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As for my wee poetic epiphany, it began with, I guess, the first ‘critical response; if you can call it that. A certain gentleman (GS) was unhappy I centralised my stanzas. The chat went;

GS: I think you’re very hopeful when you ask people to manage 1000 pages of centred text. I managed two before giving up.

ME : Its a dipper, folk have got a lifetime to read it

GS : I spend quite a bit of my lifetime avoiding centred text. Try that on some other readers and see what they think. I edit a poetry magazine, and know from reader reactions that most people strongly dislike centralised text, unless there is a strong reason for it – and even then only in small doses. Am I right in thinking that you yourself don’t read much poetry? Have you ever tried reading a long centred piece by someone else?

ME : The stanza (ive called it a tryptych) looks like a candlestick, i like it – its my epic

While up in StAnza I finally & truly understood how todays poets write for other poets not for the people. The reason is rhyme… if you go up to the vast majority of people & say what are the first tihings that come to mind when I say the word poetry,  rhyme will undoubtedly be first or second unless they are a poet or a member of a literary community conditioned to believe that rhyme is unessential for poetry. It is this cutting of the chord that has left the poet bereft of the public at large, sat on a little raft wandering the ocean of word-art, while the world waits to hear some proper poetry – that rhymes. OK, Paradise Lost is blank verse, & there are some excellent Free Verse, but these should stand out as curious strokes of genius rather than as standards to the norm. ‘No-no-no – no-one does that anymore,; balk the critics, but our biggest selling poets; Burns, Kipling, Pam Eyres even – were rhymers, & that some of our so-called greatest living poets are lucky to sell 2000 copies shows a massive detachment between the people the poets, a general malaise that is only getting worse, driven by a back-scratching poetry establishment who are actually the reason why the poetry world is dying on its arse. People are shying away from poetry because it’s exclusive and high-brow – & it should be given back to the people as storytelling, painting a vivid and human picture to entertain & teach. Of course, Axis & Allies is a prime example.

I found this essay bu Fred Chappell called Chronicling the Culture: The Poet and the Modern Epic Ambition (May 1989), which has a great insight into the mindset of a poetry world beginning to disintegrate into itself towards the end of the 20th century. Where he says, ‘there are certain readers for whom The Bridge is an entertaining performance and it is to these readers that poets must address themselves, partly because they must find their audiences where they can, and partly because American culture, for all its self-vaunting anti-intellectualism, still does not consist entirely in pizza and rock and roll,’ perhaps it would have been more for Hart Crane to have composed an epic poem about rock n Roll, with a bit of pizza thrown into the mix. In the same essay, Chappell also wrote, ‘when the epic poem about George Washington is written at last, it will not contain the story of the cherry tree. But it will tell us, using the materials that we already know almost by heart, a story that we have never heard before, a story large, majestic, and truthful, ‘which I found to be rather interesting, as I have been slowly beginning top muse on such an epic – as if to paint the perfect president as a counterfoil to the tangerine nightmare.

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Humanology

img_20161024_080353948_hdrIts been a strange yet effective few weeks. On returning to the UK after my swift sojurn to Italy, I developed gout rather quickly – not long after helping my pal Bendrix move home. There were also incidents with our neighbour & her misguided sense of superiority & entitlement. Apparently her piece of paper which allows her to live i her property (the deeds) is more important than our piece of paper (the tenancy agreement).  The tension began on the day after I passed my driving test, when she hurtled to my window screaming & shouting in the most barbaric fashion, like a zombie pressed against my window braying for blood. She then proceeded to hack away the vegetation about the grotto Id built at the front of the house – so i moved it along a bit & she hacked that vegetation down as well. So I pulled her up, told her that if she had a problem with my driving to treat me like any  Lancastrian & talk about it in a calm fashion – her response being ‘why dont you get back to Lancashire.’ Absolute philistine. So I told her I was an epic poet, said not to scapegoat us for her strategic life error of buying a house with neighbours, made her shake my hand & a tenuous peace has broken out. The whole thing has inspired me to write a novel of sorts, the first chapter you can read here...img_20161018_140057421_hdr

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So, it all settl’d eventually, but my crippling gout & neighbourly distrust pinned me to the house – but I havent been idle. This weekend I am about to finish my Humanology – an expansion, modernization of the Thirukkural which I’m rather excited about. It feels like its my destiny – the boy from the back streets of Burnley about to create a text that good actually make the world a better place. Its been great fun finally slotting everything into place, making last many new kurals & sprinkling the others with words, sentiments & phrases from my library – a dash of Whitman here, a splash of Spenser there, & so on. But today I feel a little strange. The end of an epoch perhaps. The Humanology also represents the end of my Silver Rose Sonnet sequence. Tomorrow I shall attend to its finale  a final read through, then I am done.

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Elsewhere, Tinky Disco is working on some new tunes – Solarised, Jiggy Jiggy Gang Bang – which Mike insists is now called All Swap Places – Disco Gold,  Daytona Beach (based on Tam Treanor’s Soul Feel) & a new tune called ‘Im  A Driver Now.’ We’ve got a gig in a few weeks at Edinburgh’s Stramash – so it’ll be good to unveil them there. The Mumble is closed down til the New Year, when I get back from a festive season in Seattle – apart from Mumble Theatre, which I’m ticking over with some cool interviews. O, & Burnley are holding their own in the Premier League, & have just beat Everton 2-1 8 my gout seems to have FINALLY cleared Up —- so yins, & yangs & all that, & lets get Humanology on the road…

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Postscript

It is now 5AM, on the morning of the 28th Ocotober, 2016. Yesterday was a strange day, one oif signs & omens & the such like. As I was completing Humanology, Emily bought tickets to Seattle,  & Sophie came to tell me that her sister was dining with ouyr landlord their brother) who said that after recent complaints he was going to give us our notice in a couple of weeks. Perhaps it was inevitable – I did find a dead bird plumb outside our crazy neighbour’s door the other day – but the timing is strange. A month ago, when the shennanigins broke out – I was set to compose my Honeymoon poem, but the psychic shock of dealing with such a high-minded reprobate compelled to get my head down & create a masterwork (Was my thinking). This then took a full month to do, so its apt that the fallback from the encounter from the other side would first raise its head the very moment or so I felt content with my book.  This is the blurb I sent my agent in India (if they’re still alive) & one publisher in the UK;

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Humanology consists of 1372 kural, being brief couplets of seven words originally used by a Tamil saint, Thuruvalluvar, about 2,000 years ago.  His book, the Thirukkural (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tirukku%E1%B9%9Ba%E1%B8%B7) forms the core of Humanology, to which I have added a great deal of wisdom both modern & antique, then tailored the whole for the English-speaking western mind.

In essence, where most modern guidebooks a rather niche, specializing on parenting, business, etc, Humanology has something to say about everything – a universal guide to life from birth to funeral. Including my brief prelude, the text is exactly 10,000 words. The fourteen chapters are divided as follows;

Life / Mentalities / Conduct / Vice / Virtue / Money / Friendship / Passion / Coupling / Homestead / Society / Governance / War / Divinity

I first encountered the Thirukkural in 2002, when I visited Tamil Nadu for the first time. Seven years later I returned to Tamil Nadu in order to translate the text, & seven years after that I have finally worked up my modernized transcreation. The original was perhaps a little too ‘eastern’ for the west – but in my version I hope to have made the wisdom more accessible, understandable, & with the brevity of the kural form, memorable. 

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Interestingly, the whole essence of the Humanology is to give people advice – so last night we put it to the test, me & Emily in bed discussing our life & future the well-being of the girls. I remained strong, there’s a certain fulfillment of destiny occurring here, a chronic naturalness, if you will. Receiving that Tunbridge Wells HB overpayment  in 2001, just as I was beginning Axis & Allies couldnt have happened to anyone else at such a significant time. A few months later I was in Kanyakumari seeing Thiruvalluvar for the first time. On the same trip I’m sure I was plucked out of the wreckage of a bus by Saraswathi herself. Fourteen years later, this uneducated illigitamate has finally worked up a version of the kural that should satisfy the western world, & also improve it – in the very same region where I was based (Heather Lodge) where I first began to translate the text. It all feels meant to be & the end of an era. What the future holds we do not know yet, but it should be embraced, & I told Emily as much. However, the little details do need working out & as life is  game it must be played. The situation called for Composure & Planning, with the following kural being appropriate to our situation.

Composure

Where paranoia breeds panic
Hysteria feeds disaster

When equipoise fills minds
Words lilt untiltingly

Remain unruffled whenever effective
Even within infernos

Better tackling unspeculative actualities
Before gossipy suppositions

As rivers swallow stones
Composure absorbs hostility

As elephants arrows endure
Handle slander silently

Like cobras closing hoods
Over insults climb

 
Planning

Simple initiatives easy successes
Complexity invites complications

Sleep before rash deliberations
Night brings counsel

When leaders plan diligently
Success thrives abundantly

Thoroughly investigating prevenient futurities
Prevents disastrous eventualities

Our very cleverest rabbits
Dig several burrows

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Introducing Thomas Watson

watson-wgb-242x300About a year ago, I was indulging in a spot of Shakespearean scholarship, which showed how Shakespeare was connected to the Familists, & had also visited Douay in the 1570s where he seems to have studied with the English Jesuits. In recent days I’ve also been looking at another fellow who visited said College, a certain Thomas Watson, who we can make the most interesting connection to our bard in London, in the year 1589.  His name was Thomas Watson, born in St Olave Parish in 1555. There is a record for him studying at Winchester College in 1567, & when he supplied verses to Greene’s Ciceronis Amor (1589), Watson signed himself an Oxford man – which means that he studied at the that university at some point. This is confirmed by the Oxford antiquarian Anthony à Wood (Athenae Oxonienses 1691) who stated, “Thomas Watson, a Londoner born, did spend his time in this university, not in logic and philosophy, as he ought to have done, but in the smooth and pleasant studies of poetry and romance, whereby he obtained an honourable name among the students of those faculties.” One of these students could well have been William Stanley, who was 6 years younger than Watson & who studied at St Johns.

Watson was a prolific poet, & in a verse preface to his Latin version of the Antone, he gives us more gloss concerning his life; I spent seven or eight years far from my homeland, and learned to speak in diverse tongues. Then I became well versed in Italy’s language and manners, and also thy our tongue and ways, learned France. Wherever I was wafted, I cultivated the Muses as best I could, and Justinian was especially dear. But often Mars troubled Pallas against her will, and wars often interrupted my study. Yet I shunned the camps, save for the camps of Phoebus, which contained the pious Graces together with the Muses. Bartolus, you were a great tome. I was not permitted to carry you about, nor your legal puzzles, learned Baldus. I took up Sophocles, I taught his Muses to grow gentle. I made Latin out of his Greekish verse. Thus, though disturbed, I spent my hours a useful man, I taught Antigone how to speak Latin.

It seems very much that Watson’s time on the continent was a surreptitious escapade in Catholic scholarship. The English College diary at Douay records on October 15, 1576, ‘Dominus Watson went from here to Paris.’ The following May he is back in Douay, where we read ‘August: on the seventh day Master Watson, Master Robinson, Master Griffith, and some others left for England because of the riots.’  It is likely that he met the Italian Jesuit Metteo Ricci during this period, for a system of local memory training he would publish as a treatise in 1585 was identical to the one used by Matteo to wow the Chinese when he was there.

In an earlier post, I also placed Shakespeare in Douay 1575-76, which gives us our first, albeit tentative, connection. Three years later, Watson is living in Westminster, which means he could well have encountered our even chaperoned our young Shakespeare, who was also living in London at the time.  William Stanley may also have met Watson, in Paris 1582, for 14 years after then, in 1596,  the anonymous author of Ulysses upon Ajax  describes a certain, ‘Tom Watson’s jests, I heard them at Paris fourteen years ago: besides what balductum play is not full of them?” 

We now come to the very distinct possibility that in 1589 – when Shakespeare was also in London – that Watson was sharing the same social circle as the bard. In 1589, he had become the tutor to John Cornwallis, son of William, a high-ranking, yet Catholic, advocate of the Queen’s Bench. William also explains how Watson could ‘deuise twenty fictions and knaveryes in a play, which was his daily practyse and his liuing,’ a theatrical bent confirmed in the Palladis Tamia  Francis Meres in 1598, which places Watson amon such eminent company as Shakespeare, Marlowe, Peele, Kyd,  Drayton, Chapman, Dekker, and Jonson as being ‘our best for tragedie.’ Only one of Watson’s plays survive – ‘The Trewe Misterie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke.’ 1589, with its obvious Shakesperean connotations.

That he influenced Shakespeare was also suggested in a sidenote in the Polimanteia (1595), where a certain W. C. describes  a ‘Wanton Adonis’  (Shakespeare had just published Venus & Adonis) as ‘Watson’s heyre.’ Indeed, Watson’s 1585 Latin poem, Amyntas, end with their heroes transforming into flowers, while Watson’s translation of Coluthus’ erotic Raprus Helenae (1586) may also have influenced Shakespeare. One further significant influence Watson had on not just Shakespeare, but on English literature as a whole, was his ‘Passionate Century of Love’ (1582) – the first significant sonnet sequence of the age. These sonnets were actually three comblended sestets – ABABCC – the form which Shakespeare would us for his Venus & Adonis, the  first stanzas of which were written, I believe, in the mid-1580s.

That Shakespeare was actually Watson’s friend can be discerned thro’ analyzing a line in sonnet 32, the full text of which reads;

If thou survive my well-contented day,
When that churl Death my bones with dust shall cover
And shalt by fortune once more re-survey
These poor rude lines of thy deceased lover,
Compare them with the bett’ring of the time,
And though they be outstripped by every pen,
Reserve them for my love, not for their rhyme,
Exceeded by the height of happier men.
O! then vouchsafe me but this loving thought:
‘Had my friend’s Muse grown with this growing age,
A dearer birth than this his love had brought,
To march in ranks of better equipage:
But since he died and poets better prove,
Theirs for their style I’ll read, his for his love’.

The key line is  ‘ march in ranks of better equipage’ which connects to a statement by Nash, in his preface to Green’s Menaphon (1589) which expresses that Watson’s works, ‘march in equipage of honour.‘ Watson died in 1592, & if I am right, then this sonnet was written after that occasion, & when Shakespeare writes, ‘Had my friend’s Muse grown with this growing age, A dearer birth than this his love had brought, To march in ranks of better equipage: But since he died and poets better prove, Theirs for their style I’ll read, his for his love,’ he is stating that tho’ better exist than Watson, the love he professes in his poetry is worth emulating.

Now then. In the National Archives (PROB 11/118/441 1), there is the Prerogative Court of Canterbury copy of the will of Sir William Cornwallis, from 1611. which tells us that he became owner of an enormous mansion known as Fisher’s Folly in 1588 (on the site of the present Devonshire Suare) described as a huge structure with ‘gardens of pleasure, bowling-alleys and the like.‘ In that same year he employed Thomas Watson as a tutor for his son and heir, John Cornwallis. Also that year we have his daughter, Anne, becoming the author – transcriber rather – of the short anthology of sixteenth century poetry known as the Cornwallis-Lysons manuscript(Folger MS V.a.89).

(Incidentally, another person in the household was Cornelia Cornwallis, one of the younger daughters, who would eventually – in 1601 – marry Sir Richard Fermor of Somerton, Oxfordshire. His auntie, Anne(d.1550), had been the wife of William Lucy (d.1551), & thus the mother of Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecote, Warwickshire, the very estate where the young Shakespeare was caught stealing deer!)

Back to the Cornwallis-Lysons book, James Orchard Halliwell-Phillips, the prolific nineteenth-century Shakespeare scholar and collector, became convinced that several poems were by Shakespeare. The fellow published the account of his acquisition of the russia leather-bound quarto bearing the large feminine signature, “Anne Cornwaleys her booke,” in a volume entitled, Catalogue of Shakespeare Reliques In the Possession of James Orchard Halliwell, Esq., F.R.S. in the year 1852.’ In it he compares the stanzas of one poem to those in the Passionate Pilgrim, a collection of 20 poems attributed to Shakespeare in 1599.

The lines by Shakespeare are an elegant little poem which appeared first in The Passionate Pilgrim, 1599, a surreptitious publication in which they are most incorrectly given. The present Manuscript offers not only a better arrangement of the stanzas, but also a far superior text, in proof of which we subjoin the last stanza:—

Manuscript

Now hoe, inoughe, too much I fear;
For if my ladye heare this songe,
She will not sticke to ringe my eare,
To teache my tongue to be soe longe;
Yet would she blushe, here be it saide,
To heare her secrets thus bewrayede.

Printed Text

(Poem XIX, The Passionate Pilgrim, 1599)
But soft; enough, too much I fear,
Lest that my mistress hear my song;
She’ll not stick to round me i’ the ear,
To teach my tongue to be so long:
Yet will she blush, here be it said,
To hear her secrets so bewray’d.

In this (manuscript) reading, we get rid of the harsh and false metre of the third (printed) line, and obtain a more natural imagery; the lady wringing, her lover’s ear for betraying her secrets, being certainly a more appropriate punishment for his fault than that of merely whispering (to) him.

Invention has been racked to account for the utter disappearance of the poems of Shakespeare in his own hand. The Rev. Mr. Hunter, in his recently published New Illustrations of the Life and Writings of Shakespeare, ingeniously supposes that the last descendant of the Poet, Lady Barnard (granddaughter of the Stratford citizen) in her over-religious zeal, may have destroyed any writings that remained in her hands. Whatever cause it may be owing, it is a certain fact that, at the present time, not a line of (William Shakspere’s) writing is known to exist. In the absence of his (literary) autographs, any contemporaneous manuscript is of importance; and in this view the present (Cornwallis) one may justly be deemed a literary curiosity of high interest.

In conclusion, I may observe that during a search of ten years later extended to about fifty years and after a careful examination of every collection of the kind I could meet with, either in public or private libraries, the present is the only specimen of any of Shakespeare’s writings I have seen which was written in the sixteenth century. Scraps may be occasionally met with in miscellanies of a later date, but this volume, in point of antiquity, may be fairly considered to be unique in its kind, and as one of the most interesting illustrations of Shakespeare known to exist

The volume also contains an attribution to a certain WS.  This fact, & all the others, really does reinforce a connection between Thomas Watson & Shakespeare that could well have been forged in Douay in the 1570s & carried on to London, 1589. Indeed, Fishers Folly, when Shakespeare came to London in the late 1580s, was originally the possession of the Earl Of Oxford, who made the place the, “headquarters for the school of poets and dramatists who openly acknowledged his patronage and leadership,” a fertile breeding ground indeed.

TEXTUAL COMPARISON

For me, the language, spelling & rhythms of the Shakespeare poem given above, ie;

Now hoe, inoughe, too much I fear;
For if my ladye heare this songe,
She will not sticke to ringe my eare,
To teache my tongue to be soe longe;
Yet would she blushe, here be it saide,
To heare her secrets thus bewrayede.

Have an extremely similar ring to the language, spelling & rhythms of the poem attributed to WS in 1577, which I gave in an earlier post, ie;

W.S. in Commendation of the author begins

Of silver pure thy penne is made, dipte in the Muses well
They eloquence & loftie style all other doth excell:
Thy wisedom great & secrete sense diffusedly disguysde,
Doth shew how Pallas rules thy minde, & Phoebus hath devisde
Those Golden lines, which polisht are with Tagus glittering sandes.
A pallace playne of pleasures great unto the vewers handes.
Thy learning doth bewray itselfe and worthie prayse dothe crave,
Who so thee knew, did little think such learning thee to have.
Here Vertue seems to checke at Vice, & wisedome folly tauntes:
Here Venus she is set at naught, and Dame Diane she vauntes.
Here Pallas Cupid doth detest, & all his carpet knightes:
Here doth she shew, that youthfull impes in folly most delightes.
And how when age comes creeping on, with shew of hoary heares,
Then they the losse of time repent, with sobbes & brinish teares.
Thou Ambodexter playste herein, to take the first rebounde,
And for to shew thy minde at large, in earth doth the same compound.
So that Apollo Claddes his corps all with Morycbus clothes,
And shewes himself still friendliest there, wher most of all he lothes

Back & Forth & Back Again

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I am writing this on a weirdly letter-spread out keyboard at the Le Clos , Notre Dam hotel, Paris, on a  sunday morning. Emily is asleep upstairs. After a tres joli walk thro’ Paris we shall be returning to Edinburgh tonight! I feel refreshed & revitalized… Paris is a sensational & serene city – the kind of place folk would build if they actually gave a fuc£!

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On wednesday morning, we arrived early in Rome from Edinburgh, where we walked to the Protestant Cematary. As I showed Ems the graves of Shelley & Keats & couldn;t help picturing me here as a 21 year old at the dawn of my career – now I’m 40 I’ve outlived them all – a strange sensation.

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From Rome we idled up the coast to Castiglione by train, a lovely spot with a medieval burgo looking out over the island-dotted Meditterranean. We were met by Dario, an Air B&B guy, who gave us the top room in his lovely house on the outskirts of Castiglione for £50 a night. I got obsessed with his upper terrace floor, after spilling a bit of tuna oil, which I thought I’d clean & thus made more stains! This incident began our bonnie & clyde style rampage thro Europe, leaving a trail of minor breakages & spillages in our wake.

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Thursday was spent all day on the beach – Ems really needed it, & I got the vibe that this was the Italian Goa. I’ll be back. I also filmed a couple of cantos of A&A in the locality, which was a swell thing to do.

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Working on Axis & Allies
Working on Axis & Allies

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Next day we set off again, calling in Pisa en route for more Damological pilgrimages. I showed Ems scenes from my busking domicile in the Pisa, & wrote a few stanzas for my Honeymoon poem, the finale to the Silver Rose sequence.

My Pisan streets, how I return to thee,
This time a wife fix’d sweetly by my side,
That like a muse comes merrily to me,
Or is she you, who gaylie deified
My youthful verse, turning to poetry,
Ye urged me on the world to wander wide,
From Tuscan marriage; Muse I sense ye still
About my mind, my woman & my will.

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That evening we arrived, via Lucca, in Pistoia. A lovely medieval-hearted place ran by the lovely Giovanni, in which we took rooms in an amazing room in an amazing house. We dined out for the first & only time on the tour – delicisoso Tuscan cooking – & reveled in the funky Pistoian ‘everyone-knows-everyone’ vibe. Our rooms were above the city’s main, narrow artery, so Saturday night was echoing all night. This & the wine bubbled us up into a romantic glow, & suffice to say our lovemaking was sweet.

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The next morning we rose early, breakfasted, then took two trains to Bologona, thro extremely pretty & hilly countryside of the most luscious greens. Taking a flight to Paris, we landed 50 miles north at Beauvais, from where we caught a bus into Paris. Dropping us off near the Arc de Triumph, we both popped our Parisian cherry by conducting an epic walk along the Champs D’Elysee, thro’ the Tuileries Gardens, past the Louvre & onto Place Saint Michael, where our hotel was to be found.

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After indulging in the free champagne at the hotel., we stepped out into the Parisian night, full of euphoria & fun. After the mega-busy hustle-bustle streets of the Latin quarter, we paused in front of the impressive Notre Dame cathedral on the Lutetian Isle. Then, the day & the tour hit us, & we went back to our hotel for a much needed repose.

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This morning, before dawn, I poured out some left over red wine & hit the streets. It was at the Pont Neuf Bridge that I found a perfect location for the final stanzas of the Honeymoon poem – & thus the Silver Rose. The idea is I leave two roses on a seat there, which will hopefully inspire future poets to leave two roses there also…

I am the Silver Rose this purple morn
That clambers over Paris with set poise,
This Seine, this celebration, seems reborn
In me, a poet feeling first her joys,
But amplified to grandeur by the horn
Of mankind’s pearl’d advancement, what a noise!
Shaking with thunderous force the vaults below –
No! The latter was in fact the metro.

I took a seat upon the Pont Neuf Bridge
& paus’d there like a panting cicerone -
Sat in a semi-circle hermitage,
I pinn’d my Silver Roses to the stone
The summit of a perfect pilgrimage
Thro’ which profund philosophies have grown
Into this verbose effigy of me -
Some Robin Hood, some Richard de la Lea.

Of future bards & artists who have felt,
Their passions with my poetry entwine,
Then find themselves in Paris; as I’ve knelt
By Shelley’s tomb, with music & with wine,
Unto this stone immortal let them melt
& place a pair of roses as a sign
To passing people, centuries apart -
True poetry still gushes from the heart!

Its All Coming to a Head…

In a good way, of course…

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So, August’s Mumble marathon is over, towards the end of which I passed my dribving test. I’d done well, really. I’d only had one official two-hour lesson, by the end of which I’m like, ‘I dont wanna learn about manuals – automatic are just ssssooooo much easier!’ Then I took a test in Livingston in mid-July – failing on manouvres & general driving – a second test in Glenrothes – failing on manouvere- & finally a third test in Kirkcaldy, which I passed!

Also finished is the Tinky Disco album… it didnt quite end up as I would have liked – Mike said we couldnt use two of the tracks, & our producer turning into a nobhead. Still, its sounding great, & on itunes & spotify, so we got something out of the £1000 we spent. I’m also determined to get another album out by Christmas! We start in earnest after this Saturday, which is a big album launch at Studio 24.

Before then, Donna (Emily’s mum) arrives from Seattle, so me & the wife are gonna have a wee break in Italy. This, then, serves as the perfect finale to the Silver Rose – a Honeymoon to counterpoise the Grand Tour. With me also reading out Axis & Allies at the moment (I’m on Canto 13 next), & making some last minute corrections as I go, plus going through my memoirs, which I’ve recently entitled ‘Epistles to Posterity,’ plus finishing off the Humanology Kural (Lifeology perhaps?) – there’s a definite Deus ex Machina element to my work at the moment. I’ve earmarked November for recording the next album, with a launch in December perhaps. The plan, then, is to finish my epic, my memoirs, my Silver Rose stuff AND a classic album all by December. After the New Year I can then focus on finishing off my lectures for about April first, 20 years after first starting out on the Poet’s Path…

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Forrest Fenn’s Treasure

 

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“If I was standing where the treasure chest is, I’d see trees, I’d see mountains, I’d see animals. I’d smell wonderful smells of pine needles, or pinyon nuts, sagebrush—and I know the treasure chest is wet.”Forrest Fenn

A few years ago, a certain octogenarian, Forrest Fenn, hid a treasure chest somewhere in the Rocky Mountains of America. Since then, many a puzzle-solver has attempted to crack the poem which contains clues to the treasure’s location. It reads;

As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.

Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down,
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.

From there it’s no place for the meek,
The end is ever drawing nigh;
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.

So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answers I already know,
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.

So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.

The poem is contained in an autobiographical sketch called the Thrill of the Chase, of which Fenn says, ‘ The chapters in my book have very subtle hints but are not deliberately placed to aid the seeker. Good luck in the search.’

So where to begin – well, in a case of x marks the spot, there are two crosses on the treasure map – one should be a decoy & one help to hone in on the treasure. So, the peak marked with a cross in Wyoming is Garret Peak, its the most central cross, so on a hunch we’ll begin our search there.

Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down,

This is a reference to fishing on the Green River, which flows through a canyon & becomes too warm for the fish in the summer. Thus ‘Begin it where warm waters halt’ is a reference to fishing – in Fenn’s book his love of fishing, especially fly-fishing, is everywhere.

Put in below the home of Brown

‘Put in’ is a term for launching a small boat – this is a reference to sailing on Green River Lake, which sits underneath Osborn Mountain.  Henry Fairfield Osborn was the man who assisted Barnum Brown’s search for dinosaurs in Wyoming – the first Tyranasaurus was found by them – & the bones were displayed in the American Natural History Museum paleolithic section founded by Osborn – thus Osborn is the home of Barnum Brown’s finds. In Fenn’s book, his love of artifact hunting & deep history is everywhere.

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At the south east corner of the lake, Clear Creek begins – there is a trail to follow which leads through pinyon pine trees (rare in Wyoming) – along which one comes to Clear Creek Falls, which is described in Fenn’s third stanza;

From there it’s no place for the meek – The meek inherit the earth, thus we need to follow water

The end is ever drawing nigh –  line evocative of a waterfall’s edge & the eternal movement of the water as it approahes the drop

There’ll be no paddle up your creek, – you cant paddle a waterfall & the movement is, of course, upwards

Just heavy loads and water high. – Water high is pretty obvious, heavy loads could mean the transporting your boat which Fenn clearly tells us has been ‘put in’ by rope – up the falls

———————————————————-

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.

This is a fun stanza. In 1988 – the same year Fenn was diagnosed with cancer – the forest around Clear Creek beyond the waterfall was charred by a blaze caused by lightning (Hiking Wyoming’s Wind River Range).  Tarry scant with marvel is an allusion to Hemingway sending a copy of a short story (tarry scant) to Mcleish who wrote a poem to Andrew Marvell in the style of His Coy Mistress. In a letter to Mcleish, Hemingway calls Mcleish ‘Andy Marvell’ (Selected Letters 1917-1961, p.326) & in the Thrill of the Chase there is a glaring error made by Fenn concerning Hemingway, which I beleive was one of the subtle clues made to draw one’s attention to Hemingway. The short story was called ‘Wine of Wyoming’ in which we read; 

‘Labour day we all went to Clear Creek.. Madame said. 
‘Oh, my God, you ought to have been there all right. We all 
w&it in the truck. Tout le monde est alle dans le truck. Nous 
sommes partis le dimanche. C’est le truck de Charley.’ 

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For me, Forrest Fenn has hidden his treasure in river-cave beneath Clear Creek Natural Bridge. When he writes, ‘As I have gone alone in there’ & ‘Your effort will be worth the cold,’ wading into the waters to reach the chest makes sense, especially when supported by two of the clues Fenn has given us over the past few years.

If I was standing where the treasure chest is, I’d see trees, I’d see mountains and I know the treasure chest is wet. 

Take a flashlight and a sandwich. 

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The other hints Fenn has given us can check off one by one;

There’s no need digging in the old outhouses, the treasures’ not associated with any structure. CHECK
It is not in Nevada. CHECK
The treasure is not in a grave yard. CHECK
The treasure is higher than 5,000 feet above sea level. CHECK
If you had the coordinates, you would be able to find the treasure. CHECK 

The treasure is not hidden in Idaho or Utah. CHECK
The treasure is not in a mine. CHECK
It is at least 8.25 miles north of Santa Fe. CHECK
The treasure is hidden below 10,200 feet. CHECK 
It is more than 300 miles west of Toledo. CHECK
I never said it was buried, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t. CHECK

Is it not possible to find chest without leaving computer & google earth – CHECK

There isn’t a human trail in very close proximity to where I hid the treasure.”  CHECK
Not associated with a structure……CHECK

I would like to know if the blaze can be found during the day without a flashlight. “I would say yes. – CHECK

I made two trips from my car to the hiding place and it was done in one afternoon.”CHECK

————–

I might be wrong, I might be right – perhaps – but many of the clues in my solution synch up with Fenn & his lifestyle, so I ‘m probably right. Fenn announced the treasure in 2010, & a few months earlier, in September of 2009, he attending the Black Bow Tie event in Cody Wyoming in his capacity as a board member of the Buffalo Bill Society. So he was definitely in the right area at the right time

As for me, I live in the UK, & I’m hoping that if I am right – which I most probably am –  & someone in the US does find the treasure, then they’d give me a wee share. Indeed, just after I sent Fenn my solve he made a massive retreat from the chase, stating that on doctor’s orders;

I’m cutting back on my activities, which means going to lunch, seeing people, and time on my computer. f”

Coincidence? I think not…