getting down to work

white climbing roses

Wondering what to write to accompany yet another photograph of flowers, I searched through the blog for the word “rose”. The search also picked up words where “rose” is a substring – rosemary, primrose, arose and prose.

By chance, then, I came upon a post from 2012 called poetry, prose and politics, which contains the quotation from Mario Cuomo, former governor of the state of New York:

you campaign in poetry but you govern in prose.

I wrote that post in response to an article by historian David Cannadine, which starts with that quotation before moving on to suggest the sartorial equivalent would be:

you campaign wearing an open neck shirt, but govern wearing a tie.

It was interesting to re-read my post as I had completely forgotten the words, although I did remember the difficulty I had tying my mother’s old school tie round the trunk of a vine to provide a photograph.

school tie tied round vine trunk

In the post I write:

Once you’ve got the job, you dress appropriately. It doesn’t matter then what you look like; what matters is that you get down to work and do what you do as best you can. If that means politicians taking their jackets off, loosening their top buttons and rolling up their sleeves, I don’t think it should matter, as long as they actually do some work.

Of course the election is over here in the UK, although how long it will be before the next one remains to be seen. For the moment, though, I suppose the politicians will be getting down to work.

In last weekend’s post “summery” I quoted Lewis Galantière’s translation of Jean Anouilh’s Antigone. Before the play begins, Creon was the brother-in-law of King Oedipus but, as the Chorus says:

[…]Oedipus died. Oedipus’s sons died. Creon had to roll up his sleeves and take over the kingdom. Now and then, when he goes to bed weary with the day’s work, he wonders whether this business of being a leader of men is worth the trouble. But when he wakes up, the problems are there to be solved; and like a conscientious workman, he does his job.

I can’t warm to the character of Creon, but he is one of the inspirations behind this poem. It isn’t really the right tone for my post-election blog post, but at least it reflects the idea that, whatever you think of how we got to where we are now, it’s time to settle down and get some work done:

“Where everyone who is marked for death dies”

On a semi-circular stage, draped round
with a grey cloth cyclorama, figures
come and go. Here, audience or no,
across the centuries, each night
a wilful child defies a conscientious king.

He must not regret the unburied bones
of heroes at the city gate; the bodies
in the cave; the playing out of roles. Scent
pinks the war-room fug: false perfume
of a paper nightclub flower. His rolled sleeves
show his muscles tense. He does not turn.

What do we fight for?

Dirt; the right to dig; the right to stop
them digging. A kitten mews and claws
his wife’s abandoned knitting. Now, the child
will never understand; she will never be old.
There is work to be done. The city settles
into melancholy peace.

wild red rose close up of centre

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

1 thought on “getting down to work”

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