Poet Adrian Mitchell dies, aged 76

A poet of the left, attacked by people of the right for politicising poetry (as if Shakespeare was not political!) but in my book a brilliant poet who combined sincere passion with great technique. At the legendary poetry gig at the Royal Albert Hall, London (’68 I believe) with Allen Ginsberg and many others, it was Adrian Mitchell who stole the show. Deployed imagery, rhyme, devastating observation and a control of dramatic impact in the service of (his) truth.
Here for your delectation & delight is his anti-Vietnam war poem. Employing repetition and banal rhyme to devastating effect, the first 2 lines still encapsulate in a nutshell something I’d felt for years and not been able to express. Brillant observation.

‘To Whom It May Concern’ by Adrian Mitchell

I was run over by the truth one day.
Ever since the accident I’ve walked this way
So stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Heard the alarm clock screaming with pain,
Couldn’t find myself so I went back to sleep again
So fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Every time I shut my eyes all I see is flames.
Made a marble phone book and I carved out all the names
So coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

I smell something burning, hope it’s just my brains.
They’re only dropping peppermints and daisy-chains
So stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Where were you at the time of the crime?
Down by the Cenotaph drinking slime
So chain my tongue with whisky
Stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

You put your bombers in, you put your conscience out,
You take the human being and you twist it all about
So scrub my skin with women
Chain my tongue with whisky
Stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Guardian obit:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/dec/21/adrian-mitchell-obituary

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