DULL WEATHER DANCE
Poems by Arnold Rattenbury
Born in China in 1921, Arnold Rattenbury comes of a long line of parsons. After war service he was, from 1943, an editor (Our Time, Theatre Today) and sometimes a poet, but in the 1950’s became an exhibition designer. He returned to poetry only in the 1960’s, since when two collections have been published and a play ‘in doggerel and prose’ produced. Dull Weather Dance is his third collection.
From reviews of his earlier collections: Second Causes, Chatto & Windus 1969 and Man Thinking, The Byron Press, 1972:
’It is poetry with the oddity and earnest ness of inevitable art. There is a playfulness and wit also, but the overriding impression is of a subdued and probing wonder in face of the big mysteries . . . His technique relies upon local distortions and deceptions inside traditional forms . . . Always the will to say something accurately syncopates the music we predict . . .’
Brian Jones, London Magazine
’There is a real power in these poems; their author has a philosophical and also a satirical cast of mind. What is perhaps the most impressive thing about his work is happy assurance.’
Elizabeth Jennings, Daily Telegraph
’Many of the poems are models of craftsmanship and sensibility. The cerebral exercise suggested by Man Thinking is a far remove from arid discourse as Mr. Rattenbury turns a witty phrase and thinks passionately. A great variety of rhymed verse forms are handled with cunning . . .’
Times Literary Supplement
Welshman Working His Dogs
He stands there in his certainties:
The English are such and such, and he
A so and so. I am. He is.
And the dogs are beyond sight and the sheep -
Those darker than milkwhite entities -
Are problems, like any other to solve;
But simple problems, the dogs his.
He gravels at once in a Welsh stream
Of invective, to another is a mewing curlew,
Whistles a third in a pierce of steam.
They shark the grass, flop, snake.
Would that all our problems came
Bucketing over the mountain’s rim
And through this lip of the cwm like cream!
But that, by even so sure a touch
Of the artist, needs blatant certainties -
As that the Welsh are such and such.
DULL WEATHER DANCE
Price £7.95 per copy post free (£5.30 post free to Associate Members)
Cover illustration: detail of Sleights Tom, probably the oldest surviving folk costume in Britain (EFDSS): photo, Paul Harber
Publication: SPRING 1981 (64 pages laminated paperback)