Chop, Chop.

Tuesday, 20th September 2005

before clipping

speckled woodThere's a speckled wood (right) flying by the house, a comma feeding at the ice plant and two white butterflies (not sure which kind) flapping about over the lawn.

I should have cut the meadow area (left) a month ago but I was busy with my book (the appropriately titled Rough Patch) so I'm gradually working my way down the garden, trimming back.

The hedge needed cutting badly, as does the poem (of sorts) that it inspired . . .

It's good to do something mindless and physical after the thousand-and-one decisions connected with the design and printing of the book. Hedge-trimming is a steady job with its own rhythm:


Chop, Chop.
Chop, Chop.
When I get down to the rhubarb patch
I'll take a break and stop.


You can tell what goes through my mind as I work my way down along the path by the veg beds.

Chop, Chop.
Chop, Chop.
Cheese on toast at lunchtime
With some chutney on the top.
(Homemade green tomato: Yum!)


My idea is that I should be able to take the regular rhythm of the snipping of the shears as the background beat. The red bars ( | ) represent the 'chop, chop' beat . . .

runner bean

| This rough patch nee-| ded taming
| So I'm snipping | with my shears.
| The hedge and see- | dy nettle-heads
| Have grown up to | my ears.
| The mildewed leaves | of courgette
| Flop like felt ears | and expire;
| The bean pods are | as blackened
| As the embers | of a fire.


It seems to me that you need four beats for the first half of each line but only three or perhaps just two for the second half. I expect you hold the last syllable to end the line. Perhaps I just have a bad sense of rhythm and meter: I've got one leg a centimetre or more shorter than the other which could account for me preferring lopsided rhythms.

I thought I should finish with an echo of the first two verses (if verses is the term for something so silly).

Snip, Snip.
Snip, Snip.
When a hawthorn hedge gets hairy
You just rake, and shred and clip

(whispered rather breathlessly)
Snip, Snip.
Snip, Snip.
When a hawthorn hedge gets hairy
You just rake, and shred and clip

long-handled secateurs

I tried to read the first version of this to Barbara, but I couldn't get through it without laughing.

'Well,' she remarked stonily, 'I shouldn't publish that one.'

'Well no, but I think I could develop it.'

'As what?!'


MUSE (Part Time): an ability to look wistfully into the middle distance while listening to bad poetry is essential. 'Attitude' and a tendency to make sarky remarks are distinct disadvantages. Next Page

Richard Bell,