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JOHN SEED

John Seed lives in London and has published four collections of poetry since the 1970s. His work was also featured in the seminal anthology A Various Art (ed. Crozier & Longville, Carcanet 1987).

 

 

From THAT BARRIKIN: PICTURES FROM MAYHEW LONDON 1850 II

(This 5-part section is from the unpublished and still developing Pictures From Mayhew II., a sequel to the published volume Pictures from Mayhew. London 1850.  Every word in this collection is drawn from Henry Mayhew's writings on London, published in the Morning Chronicle from 1849 to 1850, then in 63 editions of his own weekly paper, London Labour and the London Poor  between December 1850 and February 1852, and then again in the four-volume work of the same title.

 

From the thousands of pages of Mayhew's investigations, John Seed has selected a few hundred extracts from those passages where he attempted to record the voices of London's working people. He has cut and rearranged the source texts, and has re-set them as poetry, splitting the lines in such a way as to make them both more easily readable and less easily, or quickly read, in an attempt to get closer to the original voices. The author likens this process to a sound engineer editing a tape to try to get rid of interference or distortion.

 

The final shape of the poem-sequence, and the form of the poems themselves, show the influence of American models such as Charles Reznikoff and William Carlos Williams, who both attempted to record common speech.)  

 

 


1

Byron Lord Byron's
latest and best po'ms 
Sixpence! Sixpence! 


Eightpence! 


I take penny bids
under a shilling 


Eightpence for the poems
written by a lord


Gone! 


Yours sir 


 


2

Coop'r Coop'r!
published at 3s. 6d. 


as printed on the back


superior to Byron

Coop'r's Task 

No bidders? 



Thank you sir 

one-and-six



your's sir

 


3

Young 


Young's Night Thoughts
Life Death and Immortality

great subjects
London edition


marked 3s. 6d


Going!


last bidder


two shillings


gone



4

The Rambler!


Now you rambling boys now 


You young devils

that's been staring those pretty
girls out of countenance

here's the very book for you

& more shame for you

& me too but I must sell I must 

do business if any lady or 

gen'lman'll stand treat
to a glass of brandy and water

warm with
I'll tell more about this Rambler

I'm too bashful as it is


Who bids? 

Fifteen-pence
thank'ee sir


Sold again! 


The Rambler


was Dr. Johnson's!

 


5

Here is the History of the 

Real Flying Dutchman & 

no mistake



no fiction I 

assure you

upon my honour



published at 10s. 

who bids half-a-crown? 



Sixpence



thank you sir



Ninepence going

going! 



Any more?




gone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

copyright  John Seed