The conundrum for modern-day laureates
Is not that you’ll never be published
On bedroom-wall posters for teenagers,
Or into the heads of parental nostalgia
Like punk haircuts in the 1970s, or
Chants from Wembley’s terraces in 1966.
Teenagers were not conceived when a fairy queen
Forged the first garland, nor also a sport
Where grown men wearing garish shorts
Chase a bladder around a blustery garden.
And the laureates’ problem is not
That the souls of our fathers were hived
And siphoned in vacant slots because
Everything, the bureaucrat says, is short-term:
Indeterminate’s best, bamboozle with science,
Arguments are suppressed with lies and defiance;
Forget the foundations of alabaster
If the majority will take a six-by-six grave,
A daffodil bouquet, and a nameless granddaughter.
Nor is the problem that you would receive
Like a medal on a ribbon ripped from a corpse
The garland with insecticide sprayed;
There are neither hedgehog nor elephant thoughts
On display; the mammals were all being slaughtered.
Duty-bound to extol abusers, defilers,
De facto xenophobes praised, geneticists
And drone pilots. You did not capture the age
Of protest and dreams and love and disease;
You watched as an enchanting king
Danced with his navel and his trousers unhinged
Drunkenly upon a podium.
He clapped his hands twice
And said for ten years you’ll write
Encomia for my bland republic.
And therein is the problem you are intrinsic to now,
The older and hardy too long are disgusted,
Your role pushes the souls of young poets down.