Football, the working class, and Marx: a 'tweet' from Kendrick Smithyman
A couple of weeks ago, during a different debate on this blog, Dave Bedggood suggested that writers have nothing to fear from the new technology of the internet age. According to Dave, poets would do well to learn how to express themselves in tweets. I thought Dave and other veterans of the debate about the World Cup might enjoy this poem by Kendrick Smithyman, which manages to deal with football, Marxism and the future of the working class in the space of the average tweet:
Marx was wrong.
The quantitative does not become
qualitative. Have you ever seen
a dealer's window full of TV sets
reporting an English football match?
Negation is not negated.
Smithyman scribbled the poem down on the 20th of May, 1969, while he was spending six months in Britain as the guest of the English Department of Leeds University. 'Dialectic' did not appear in Journal 69, the section of Smithyman's Collected Poems which describes his English adventure, but it did survive on a piece of loose paper in the great man's archive, where I discovered it last year. I'm urging Brett Cross to allow me to include the poem in From the Private Bestiary, the annotated selection of Smithyman's unpublished poems which I am bringing out through Titus Books this year.
I'll post an interpretation of 'Dialectic' when I have time, but I'd be interested to see what some of the readers of this blog have to say about it. Is the poem deceptively simple, or is it just, well, simple? And does anyone have an idea what game might have been playing on English televisions on or just before the 20th of May? According to my five minutes' of research on the internet, the English football season was well and truly over by then, with the FA Cup final, in which Manchester City beat Leicester City, having been played in mid-April.