Tuesday, 17 March 2015

reader by ifbook
This link leads (we hope) to Toni Le Busque's beautiful rendering of Jacob Polley's wonderful poem commissioned for our HOTBOOK project, and also a clip of Kate Pullinger introducing this and other poems from 'Fictional Stimulus', our online new media writing happening from 2009.

Clip 4 Poems and the Reader by ifbook

from the archives

We're in the process of sorting and redesigning our website(s) which involves trawling through the archives, so I'll post here some best bits - like Toby Jones reading William Blake.


The Chimney Sweeper

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry ‘weep, weep, weep, weep,’
So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.

There’s little Tom Dacre who cried when his head,

That curl’d like a lamb’s back, was shav’d: so I said,

‘Hush, Tom, never mind it, for when your head’s bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.’

And so he was quiet, & that very night,

As Tom was a sleeping, he had such a sight,

That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned & Jack,

Were all of them lock’d up in coffins of black.

And by came an Angel who had a bright key,

And he open’d the coffins & set them all free;

Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing, they run,

And wash in a river, and shine in the Sun.

Then naked & white, all their bags left behind,

They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind;
And the Angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy,

He’d have God for his father & never want joy.

And so Tom awoke, and we rose in the dark,

And got with our bags & our brushes to work.

Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy & warm;

So if all do their duty they need not fear harm.

The Chimney Sweeper

A little black thing among the snow,
Crying ‘weep, weep,’ in notes of woe!
‘Where are thy father & mother,  say?’
‘They are both gone up to the church to pray.

‘Because I was happy upon the heath,

And smil’d among the winter’s snow,

They clothed me in the clothes of death,

And taught me to sing the notes of woe.

‘And because I am happy, & dance & sing,

They think they have done me no injury,

And are gone to praise God & His Priest & King,

Who make up a heaven of our misery.’

                  Holy Thursday

Is this a holy thing to see
In a rich and fruitful land,
Babes reduc’d to misery,
Fed with cold and usurous hand?

Is that trembling cry a song?

Can it be a song of joy?

And so many children poor?

It is a land of poverty!

And their sun does never shine,

And their fields are bleak & bare,

And their ways are fill’d with thorns:
It is eternal winter there.

For where’er the sun does shine,

And where’er the rain does fall,

Babe can never hunger there,

Nor poverty the mind appall.


I wander thro’ each charter’d street
Near where the charter’d Thames does flow,
A mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,

In every Infant’s cry of fear,

In every voice, in every ban,

The mind-forg’d manacles I hear.

How the Chimney-sweeper’s cry

Every black’ning Church appalls,

And the hapless Soldier’s sigh

Runs in blood down Palace walls.

But most thro’ midnight streets I hear

How the youthful Harlot’s curse

Blasts the new born Infant’s tear,

And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.