Time passes. A theme for the ages (obvs). But put into poetry, one sees the poignant, or sad maybe, or pitiful maybe, or endearingly universal maybe truth of it all.
This is what one thinks upon reading Gavin Ewart’s tribute to the common man, who just wants more time to show up every day where everybody knows their name. A pub. A tavern. A bar. To drink away what they do not want to lose. Time.
In “Yorkshiremen in Pub Gardens,” Ewart uses end rhyme to measure time: ABABCC. There’s something about rhyme that brings us back to when we were kids “screaming for a teddy or a tinkling / musical box.” Mother Goose, you see. The Golden Age of Me. When time was not of the essence because, happily, we were immortal and had no need to forget with a draught that all is for naught:
Yorkshiremen in Pub Gardens
by Gavin Ewart
As they sit there, happily drinking,
their strokes, cancers and so forth are not in their minds.
Indeed, what earthly good would thinking
about the future (which is Death) do? Each summer finds
beer in their hands in big pint glasses.
And so their leisure passes.
Perhaps the older ones allow some inkling
into their thoughts. Being hauled, as a kid, upstairs to bed
screaming for a teddy or a tinkling
musical box, against their will. Each Joe or Fred
wants longer with the life and lasses
And so their time passes.
Second childhood: and ‘Come in, number eighty!’
shouts inexorably the man in charge of the boating pool.
When you’re called you must go, matey,
so don’t complain, keep it all calm and cool,
there’s masses of time yet, masses, masses…
And so their life passes.
Second childhood. A Shakespeare theme shaken in a snowglobe and settled into a new landscape of poetry. All the world’s a stage but also a pub populated with men glad for the entrances and ignoring the exits.
At least until they’ve downed another ale or three.