Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Mr and Mrs Anon.

To return to the theme of the 'mute inglorious' Mr and Mrs Miltons so despised by Kingsley Amis (see my September posting, Commoners' Rights to the Heroic Quatrain).
The defence of Anon must be for me a recurrent fixation because I'm reminded I touched upon it in my Elegy from a Locked Drawer in Sister Morphine (2008), where my youthful protagonist's flirtation with Toby Freemartin takes this turn ...

It was clear we were hitting it off.
    'What is your favourite colour?' he asked.
    'Iridescence,' I answered quickly (paying homage to Marianne Moore).
    'And your favourite poet?'
    His smile was wary. I suspected he was more than a little stuck on me but puzzled by the immature elusiveness I often contrived to make myself more fetching.


So, evidently, my views haven't changed since my teens.  And certainly my notebooks record any number of memorable sayings, saws and proverbs whose authors are Anon, yet whose utterances, like folk tunes, cling fast to the mind with a grip fiercer than that of any named poet.

Look. Here. I've just this minute taken eight random folk sayings and arranged them in two 'found stanzas' ...

Thought lies in Bed and is beshatten.
Mope-eyed for living so long as a Maiden,
She cannot leap an Inch from a Slut
Yet can correct the Magnificat.

They say Old Maids lead Apes in Hell.
The Body is the Socket of the Soul
Put together with a hot Needle and burnt Thread. 
Then ask: Would you know her Secrets? Who’s to know who’s a Good Maid?

Remember, Sir Kingsley, the ballad, the proverb, the inventive oath, the cautionary tale, owe their origin to Mr and Mrs Anon.

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