A MOMENTARY STAY
Poems by Paul Coltman
Paul Coltman was born at Maidstone in 1917 and educated at Maidstone Grammar School and St. John’s College Oxford. After War service (1939-45), mostly in the artillery, he taught English at Bradford Grammar School and Steyning Grammar School, retiring in 1977. He has twice won the All Sussex Poetry Competition. His poem ‘Granny’s Tale’, which won a £250 prize in the Arvon / Observer National Poetry Competition, was published in 1985 by André Deutsch as a children’s book with illustrations by Gillian McClure under the new title of Tog The Ribber or Granny’s Tale.
The other day while I was writing
a but scuttled across the page
and sat down at the end of the line.
I was surprised. I had grown accustomed
to certain temperamental words
flaunting their personalities.
Thunder has rumbled reluctant
ever since it was noticed by Milton;
silks are spoiled and rustle self-consciously;
cuckoo is vulgar, of course, a nuisance;
cherub fat with spiritual flesh
sits comfortably on its little round bottom;
and you have to give consideration
to words such as turquoise and diadem -
they are aristocrats, so to speak.
But if if and and and for and by -
the workers – began to claim privileges
it would be nothing short of revolution.
Imagine or or now or so,
an exigent the, a dominant and.
It is impossible, absurd,
but suppose they did. Absurd, but
A MOMENTARY STAY
Price £4.95 per copy post free (£3.30 post free to Associate Members)
Cover illustration: by Hsia Kuei (1180-1230). From Chinese Painting by William Cohn, Phaidon Press, London 1948. (Private collection, Japan).
Publication: SPRING 1985 (40 pages laminated paperback)