In the same class as Paul (see last entry) was a quite extraordinary young man – or at least young mind. At one point the following was handed in by one Adrian Gibson.
PET-HATES ON NIGHTINGALES
The man you hate is like the woman you love, annoying.
Life is confusing, deaths are even better,
Fun is fanatic, death is even frightening –
Forty round a serpent bend, darkness ALL around
DEATH IS A SOUND.
Could it be so, flying off the road
Life’s so exciting: ‘I wonder where they’re going?’
He’s so annoying, Christ he should be
Donning his sabre soon behind your back (cutting).
Should he be crying: no he should be drowning.
Spitting all enigma
TRY TO IGNORE HIM.
God, she was so pretty,
Flying like a skylark, White is sole
Sitting there so silent, crest upon a wing.
(She’s really very pretty – and alone.)
What she does for dying, crying, lying,
Filing, – it’s life.
’Twas once the very month of MAY.
HE, SO DAMNED BELIEING – he drowned,
Thank God. Life’s so peaceful, so contentful.
But here we are today – it’s fun – pity he’s alive.
Though life is so confusing, so annoying, But he’s still there (I still laugh) They’ll never kill you yet (ONLY WITH LAUGHING!)
I could see him staged right now –
Professing of his life – misled fool.
Professing sheer compassionless, monotonous,
Distortionist disunion, and unkempt tolerance.
Adrian was unable to explain to me what this meant, what it was about, unable to pronounce on it at all. To him it was complete. Other poems he wrote were titled ‘Through Glorious Specs Inverted’, ‘Life for Sale at the Market’ and ‘Natural and Artificial Dawn in Awakening’. I was at a loss as to how to help him. He was of a sunny disposition, and the contortions his writing went through seemed to do with a need to explore opposites and make an effect, rather than reflect a personality in any way at odds. He failed the English Language O level (but passed later), and occasionally down the years I have wondered where that mind went on to, what corners later it may or may not have turned. A line of his from the ‘Natural and Artificial Dawn’ poem has remained in my own mind: ‘The quivering shores rattle without harmony.’ I think with boys quite often the mind gets ahead of itself and out of kilter with its life-experience; while with girls there is more likely to be an even development. It’s a difference of genders that can last life-long.
I can’t remember now but it’s just possible that I had gone through two famous poems with the class, Keats’ ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ and Shelley’s ‘To a Skylark’. It’s more than just possible that my teaching style – a kind of jabbering-on in a knowing way, on the look-out for inattention – had got under Adrian’s skin. I rather hope so, looking at the superb conclusion of his poem. You can’t win them all.