EPITAPH FOR THE LATE BOURGEOISIE. Richard Livermore


circa: the day after tomorrow
if only you’d known
life beyond carpets
and windows.
or was it your fate

to sentence yourself
to the dot of an i
with a full
stop ahead at the garden?

and that of the over-
looked in the street,
the monster
that stalked the world

you neglected, eager
to slake its thirst
with your blood
to never desist

from its beastly behaviour
until you’d acknowledged
your creature
and saviour?

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14 thoughts on “EPITAPH FOR THE LATE BOURGEOISIE. Richard Livermore

  1. Richard was born in 1944 in Sussex. His publications include “Grendel’s Song” (Lothorien), “The Divine Joker” (Diehard), plus numerous poems in magazines and anthologies. He has also written poems for the theatre that
    have been given readings in the Young Lyceum and the (old) Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh and in London. Richard edits and publishes the “CHANTICLEER MAGAZINE” in Scotland.

  2. It is always a pleasure to see the bourgeoisie loathed in real life as in poetry.

    ‘life beyond carpets
    and windows’

    what a great way to essentialize the bourgeoisie’s life in its nicely decorated, high celing, tenement flats.

  3. Loathing, yes, but a sad tenderness too, nostalgia for what had been, in its early days, a utopia of carpets and (bay) windows…I like to counterpoint it with the incipit of Ascanio Celestini’s new theatre piece, “appunti per un film sulla lotta di classe”. Sorry for the Italian, I’m just too tired to translate it but I hope someone will come to my help (there’s plenty of good translators aroud here), otherwise I’ll try to get back to it as soon as possible.

    sono comunista perché essere comunista è un po’ come essere un marziano.
    secondo alcuni, i marziani hanno un intelletto superiore i cui frutti elargiranno all’umanità: come i comunisti.
    secondo altri, i marziani sono mostri sanguinari che puntano alla distruzione del mondo: come i comunisti.
    ma soprattutto, tutti sono concordi che i marziani sono un’invenzione letteraria: come il comunismo.

    Love to all S.

  4. RE. Serena’s manifesto, here’s a translation:
    “I am a communist because to be a communist is a little like being a Martian.
    According to some, the Martians have a superior intellect which they lavish on all humanity: like the communists.
    According to others, the Martians are blood-thirsty monsters who aim for the destruction of the world: like the communists.
    But above all, everyone concurs that the Martians are a literary invention: like the comminists.”
    Brava Serena!
    Ma, riguardo gli Anarchichi…?
    E, poi gli Autonomisti…?
    The political is a rare subject among established poets; most hide their collaboration with conventionality behind something like the ars gratia artis slogan. I must read more of this Richard Livermore.

  5. until you’d acknowledged
    your creature
    and saviour?

    The strange relationship with between bourgeois altruism and the left. I think of Dickens, accurately cataloguing (in detail and after much research) the sufferings of the industrial underclass and then proposing… what? Charity? Of course, it’s too much to ask writers to be philosophers also. Yet Marx praised him for publishing more political and social truths than all the politicians and moralists of his generation. As social commentator Dickens, the purveyor of conscience to the bourgeaoisie, is unparralleled in English, even today. Most of all today.
    And as Serena points out, to live in a house with carpets, bay windows and a garden is a kind of valid dream of comfort and a kind of beauty that the millions of people who live in European cities aspire to. To be bourgeois is a state of mind, I think, as well as an echelon in the structure of cpitalism: a state of mind that places a premium value on consumerism, respectability, status. But one can live in a house with carpets and bay windows and a garden simply because it’s a nice place to live.

  6. Interesting thread… Hello everybody! Ciao Mariangela, Serena and William!
    I’ve just sent an e-mail to Richard hoping he’s going to join the conversation but he’s not very computer-friendly, I’m afraid. Richard is, for me, a great example of intellectual intergrity and resiliance. He edits entirely on his own Chanticleer, he publishes great collections of poems which cannot be found in mainsteam bookshops.. He hardly breaks even in his literary adventures…

  7. “Epitaph” is now about 25 years old, being written in 1981, about the time of the Brixton and Toxteth riots and some shit going down in El Salvador. Is it typical of my work? Dunno is the answer to that. My subject-matter is too various to say it is on that level, however, it does have something more indefinable in common with my work in general, which I won’t make a fool of myself by defining. I have written quite a number of poems over the years, including long poems for the theatre, which I don’t think you could call plays. They have been given readings by “The Edinburgh Playwright’s Workshop, the Scottish Writers’ Cooperative and New Playwright’s trust in London, the last of which was the least satisfactory because it was professional-centred rather than audience-centred. It’s always much better to get reactions from audiences than theatre-professionals, who, in the words of one writer, always want to turn fish into fish-fingers! My publications include “Grendel’s Song” (1973 and now out of print), “The Divine Joker” (1994 – Diehard), “Meltdown” (2000 – Diehard), plus numerous booklets by Chanticleer, which is my own press. I also publish a magazine called Chanticleer Magazine, which will be into its 17th. issue in May. If the reader logs on the the Poetry Scotland website, they are featuring an essay of mine called “The Creative Critic”. I am at present trying to get Autonomedia interested in publishing a collection of essays, called “Bees of the Invisible” – after Rilke’s “We are bees of the invisible…”.

  8. I like the essay on Poetry Scotland. Writing about the kind of knowledge we associate with literature, Livermore says:
    “And it is a form of knowledge, not mere belief, a form of knowledge which is essentially creative in its inspiration, setting at nought the forms of ‘knowledge’ and belief which are already established. And this is what makes it such anathema to the guardians of every kind of established belief-complex and why one always takes risks in giving it utterance.”
    The corollary is that writing that does not take risks and is ‘acceptable to the guardians of every kind of established belief-complex’ does not advance or change our understanding. Put another way, safe poetry is not poetry.

  9. thanks for the comment Bill. I think we are slowly reaching a sort of intellectual empathy.. By ‘we’ I mean the very people who bother with checking this blog daily and sometimes comment. I am very pleased with both the content and the pace of RiZoMa. I can picture it as a field of energy which is slowly changing the frequency of Net. Excuse my ranting..

  10. Dear Luca and dear all, I find the title of the poetry very similar to ”Addio Capitalismo” by William Stabile. Even if their paths (and style) are different, the substance/matter is the same. I hope William is going to join us.
    Anyway, Ascanio Celestini’s incipit (thanks, Serena) is very close to what William S. writes in his poetry.

    Bye

    L.

  11. Thanks guys this more than what I expected. My shadow seems over you again! Please, Luca don’t recall me from the grave in this beatiful Kew garden. Let me be where I was and then you will have time/space to wrote my epitaph.

    KEW 2 RIP.

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