Friday Poem – ‘Samuel Taylor Colderidge Walking from the Queen’s Head…’ by Jonathan Edwards

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Samuel Taylor Coleridge Walking from The Queen’s Head…’ by Jonathan Edwards from his collection Gen.

This cover shows a colourful painting of a street scene croweded with people. The text reads: Gen, Jonathan Edwards

Gen is a book of lions and rock stars, street parties and servants, postmen and voices. In the opening sequence’s exploration of youth and young manhood, the author sets his own Valleys upbringing against the 50s youth of his parents and the experience of a range of pop culture icons, including Kurt Cobain and Harry Houdini. These poems give way to a sequence of monologues and character sketches, giving us the lives of crocodiles and food testers, pianists and retail park trees.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge Walking
from The Queen’s Head, Gray’s Inn,
to Hornsby’s and Co., Cornhill, to Buy
an Irish Lottery Ticket, November 1793
At twenty-one, he needs something big to happen
to cover his bar tab, run up trying to escape
thought of his debts. What his life is going like
is this: the blown scholarship
nothing that can’t be dealt with
by opium; ladies with abracadabra
clothes to make the girl who will not love
disappear. A night
of weighing up options: on one hand,
the army, in the other,
a pistol. Then drunken inspiration, a solution
to his life and here he is, on his way,
inventing a new walk –
the wobble-stride. He’s walking, walking,
writing in his head To Fortune, a poem
to read whose rhyming couplets
is to hear him walking
now. A month or two and his brother
will clear his debts,
a day or so and his lottery ticket
will lie in a ditch, a couple of weeks
and To Fortune will appear in The Morning Chronicle,
his first published poem, and they’ll pay a guinea,
which he’ll try – and find it good –
against his teeth.

Gen is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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