Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Them and [uz]

(for Professors Richard Hoggart and Leon Cortez)


αίαι, ay, ay! … stutterer Demosthenes 
gob full of pebbles outshouting seas – 

4 words only of mi ‘art aches and … ‘Mine’s broken,  
you barbarian, T.W.!’ He was nicely spoken.  
‘Can’t have our glorious heritage done to death!’

I played the Drunken Porter in Macbeth.

‘Poetry’s the speech of kings. You’re one of those  
Shakespeare gives the comic bits to: prose! 
All poetry (even Cockney Keats?) you see 
‘s been dubbed [Λs] into RP,  
Received Pronunciation, please believe [Λs] 
Your speech is in the hands of the Receivers.’

‘We say [Λs] not [uz], T.W.!’ That shut my trap.  
I doffed my flat a’s (as in ‘flat cap’) 
my mouth all stuffed with glottals, great 
lumps to hawk up and spit out… E-nun-ci-ate!


So right, ye buggers, then! We’ll occupy 
your lousy leasehold Poetry. 

I chewed up Littererchewer and spat the bones 
into the lap of dozing Daniel Jones,  
dropped the initials I’d been harried as  
and used my name and own voice: [uz] [uz] [uz],
ended sentences with by, with, from,  
and spoke the language that I spoke at home. 
I’m Tony Harrison no longer you!

You can tell the Receivers where to go 
(and not aspirate it) once you know 
Wordsworth’s matter/water are full rhyme,  
[uz] can be loving as well as funny.

My first mention in the Times
automatically made Tony Anthony!

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