Saturday, 28 February 2009

Adrian Mitchell - To whom it may concern

This poem was originally written in 1965 by Adrian Mitchell, it was his public breakthrough as a poet, read to a packed house at the Poetry Internationale in the Albert Hall.

Throughout his career he rewrote the last part of the poem, demonstrating neatly that throughout the 20th and 21st century very little had changed; politicians continued to use war and lies as tools in their arsenal - only the names changed. What a unique opportunity - this is a poem that lived for over 40 years!

Adrian passed away just before Christmas 2008, the end of an exciting prolific poetical political era in the UK - I may just keep a little bit of him to myself by continuing his rewrites.

This was the version from 2008, his last...
(Hint - best read aloud)

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN (TELL ME LIES ABOUT VIETNAM)

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 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, tell me lies about Aghanistan.
Tell me lies about Israel.
Tell me lies about Congo.
Tell me, tell me lies Mr Bush.
Tell me lies Mr B-B-Blair, Brown, Blair-Brown.
Tell me lies about Vietnam.
© 1968, the estate of Adrian Mitchell
From: Out Loud
Publisher: Cape Goliard, London, 1968
ISBN: 9781852248000

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for that. I've read this before (or heard it) somewhere?

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  2. My pleasure scunnert, glad you liked it - it's been about a long time, great story behind it...

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  3. Yes, I like it, and if I was musically inclined could see it as a song...
    Any more ?

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