Polly

Writings and Witterings


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The Mother

DAE-10371367 - © - De Agostini Picture L

The Death of Chatterton – Henry Wallis 1856 – original painting at The Tate Britain

Thomas Chatterton was only 17 years old when he died, (1752-1770), the original starving poet in a garret. It’s a mystery, still not certain, whether he committed suicide or if it was an accidental death.

Most of us know the pre-Raph painting of Chatterton on his deathbed by Henry Wallis, shown above. I’ve always loved the painting, it’s so beautifully detailed depicting Chatterton’s beauty even in death.

The poem below is just one from the pamphlet I published in 2014: in a series of poems we imagine friends, relatives and others of influence in Chatterton’s life gathered around the foot of his deathbed, remembering and commenting on his life. This poem is from his mother’s point of view.

The pamphlet is an ekphrastic* collection with mention made of each part of the painting, and at the back of the pamphlet there’s a potted history of Chatterton. Available as an eBook, details can be found here.

 

Chatterton

The Mother

Geranium scents the pale garret
breeze ruffling his hair, his dead hair,
hair I’ve brushed so many times.
My brilliant boy, he lies there still,
blue as his breeches,
blue as the mourning sky.
I will go mad. See his lifeless hand.

‘Ssssuicide,’ whisper shreds of papers.

My dear would not choose to
leave this way.
‘No suicide embrace for me,’ he wrote,
‘A poet’s penance is to live.’
Oh, my boy. My life.
Where was the time to put things right?
My ice blue son.

Polly Stretton © 2014

 

 

*poetry about another form of art.


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Hooked On Chatterton

An email from Michael Doble of the Chatterton Society, says that Brian May’s uploaded ‘Thomas Chatterton, Myth of the Doomed Poet’ to YouTube you’ll find a copy / link below.

Michael added:
‘For how long it is on YouTube remains to be seen. Enjoy it whilst you can.
It was good to see Chatterton, the Poet and Writer, shown in a more favourable light.  As it says on our (The Chatterton Society) website ‘Press Release’ page: “History has been unfair to Chatterton…”.

This is wonderful news – now my friends who were unable to see it via BBC can watch and enjoy – many thanks to Michael.


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Have You Got Yours Yet?

Last minute gifts? Girl’s Got Rhythm is available direct from Black Pear Press, get yours via PayPal, if you’re in the UK:

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for those overseas:

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Chatterton is available only as an eBook, click here. The first edition was limited to 50 copies…and they’re sold out—but watch this space, a second edition may be published one day.

 

GGR BPP Front Cover - StrettonChatterton Front Cover–Stretton


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Chatterton—A Series Of Poems

Chatterton Front Cover–Stretton ‘Chatterton’ is  a series of poems about young and starving poet in a garret, Thomas Chatterton. He was 17 years old. Did he commit suicide or not?  You decide.

My series of poems, in an elegant pamphlet (thanks to Black Pear Press), is from the viewpoints of those who loved or were somehow influenced by ‘the beautiful boy’. I imagine them gathered around the foot of his deathbed, remembering and commenting on his life. Each individual, from his mother to his doctor to various poets, have their own poem about him.

I’ve loved the Henry Wallis painting – shown on the front cover of the pamphlet – since I studied the pre-Raphaelites many moons ago – it’s the inspiration for the series. And I was asked to do a potted history of Thomas Chatterton – it appears in the final pages.

There’s a limited first edition of 50 copies and I’ve signed each one (phew!).

Now you can get your copy here. Because it’s a limited edition, it’s available only here or direct from my publishers Black Pear Press. Also because it’s a limited edition and not available on Amazon, we’re missing the usual review facility so we’d be very grateful if you’d leave a review in the comment box below. Thank you.

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‘Chatterton’ will be performed by writers at 42 Worcester 30th April 2014, at Coach House Writers 1st May 2014 and by writers from Worcester Writers’ Circle 12th June 2014.

Award winning novelist Carrie Rubin said, ‘I finished Chatterton… really wonderful, and I enjoyed learning about this tragic lad. The poem by “The Mother” about broke my heart… only Polly could get me to read a collection of themed poems. And I’m so glad I did!’

Reviews are welcome in the comments or ‘Leave a Reply’ box below.