Friday, November 5, 2010

Lost poem

I mentioned in the first post that I occasionally write poetry, and it's true. I do. But rather than inflict a poem on my readers, I'm going to talk about one. I wrote a poem called Chocolate Cake, which was about Michael Rosen's poem Chocolate Cake. Rosen's poem is a classic of the genre. Written in his unmistakeable style, it tells of a hilarious incident from his childhood resulting from his slightly excessive liking for chocolate cake. It begins:

"I love chocolate cake
And when I was a boy
I loved it even more."

Well my poem was about Rosen's poem, and it began:

"I love Chocolate Cake
But when I was a boy
I didn't like it much at all."

My poem went on in a style emulous of Rosen's, talking about how I couldn't appreciate the poem when I was young but now I do. I wondered why that might be, reflecting on nostalgia, false nostalgia and my changing tastes in cake and poetry. I was quite proud of it. It probably ranked among the top five poems I'd written, and it was certainly longer than any better poem I'd written.

Sadly the poem is lost, in the same way that most of the plays of Sophocles are lost. There's no extant copy, and it is not retrievable from my memory or those of the two or three other people I read it to. I lost it when I changed computers; I must have forgotten to copy the file over, or thought that it was on a memory stick or something like that. It wasn't, and now it's gone. Philosophers think a lot more about whether works of art are created or discovered than they do about whether they are destroyed or lost. I tend to agree with Amie Thomasson that they are created and can be destroyed.

I suppose I could write another poem in the style of Rosen's called Chocolate Cake, about Chocolate Cake. Maybe next time I go through a poetic phase I'll do that. I'd like to, but I'd hate to fail to do it justice, its absence having made me grow fonder of it. What most puts me off is that I'd have to stray at least as far as this post has into the unsatisfactory quagmire of unitalicisation=double italicisation, and that this might put me off making the poem self-referential, as that would ramp up the formating into treble and perhaps even quadruple italics. I think I'd want it to be self-referential too, or else I might be tempted to destroy it in order to solve a case of writer's block. I know I'd regret that.

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