The Resurrected Poets Society – Tyrrells Crisps and R.S. Thomas

From the Daily Mail online.

From the Daily Mail online.

Twenty-five years ago, Robin Williams starred in the “The Dead Poets Society.”

Now we have The Resurrected Poets Society

As I noted in my February 2nd post, Tyrrells, an English maker of what Americans call potato chips, has exhumed an old photograph of R. S. Thomas, and is offering a £25,000 reward for the best caption.

I thought this was a one-off resurrection, but Dave Lull, commenting on my January 30th post, called my attention to an online article by Charlotte Runcie titled “Want to sell something? Stick a poet on it.”

Poets and poems, it seems, are being dug up here and there and almost everywhere. It’s like English artist Stanley Spencer’s painting “The Resurrection, Cookham,” in which people are getting awake in the Cookham churchyard, sitting up in their tombs, some clothed in white robes, some in everyday attire, some birth-day naked.

An ad for the iPad Air has Robin Williams of “The Dead Poets Society” reading from Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”: Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish.

Waitrose, a chain of British supermarkets, employed poet Roger McGough to read a line from a poem by John Keats – Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness! – to promote a special offer on Braeburn apples.

Levi’s called on Shakespeare to introduce its new line of original button-fly jeans. Someone grabs a wearer of the encored jeans and cries: Oh Bottom, thou art changed! what do I see on thee?

And so to my proposal for a contest. Sorry, I’m not offering a £25,000 reward.

Tease your “little grey cells”: come up with ideas for pairing poets and products. Examples:

A photo of Robert Frost on boxes of frozen lobster pizza. Yes, I found that item online.

In the window of a real estate agency specializing in selling houses that fail the 3-L test: “Let me live in a house by the side of the road / And be a friend to man.” Can you identify the poet?

Hope to see your pairings in the comments below.

Meanwhile, R. S. Thomas writes:

The tins marched to the music
Of the conveyor belt. A billion
Mouths opened. Production
Production, the wheels

Whistled. Among the forests
Of metal the one human
Sound was the lament of
The poets for deciduous language.

Poem quoted in this post:

“Of the endless trains of the faithless” – “O Me! O Life!” Walt Whitman, Complete Poetry and Collected Prose, 410.

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!” – “To Autumn,” John Keats, New Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1950, 611.

“O Bottom, thou art changed!” – “Midsummer-Night’s Dream,” Act 3, scene 1, lines 120-121.

“The tins marched to the music” – “Postscript,” H’m, 22.

I Shun the Claques Stamping Their Feet for Snow Encores

Photograph by Peter Tobia, 2014.

Photograph by Peter Tobia, 2014.

Stop it! I say. That’s enough! I’ve already seen too many of your performances!

The podiatrist’s receptionist just called and changed my appointment . . . again. Another two weeks to wait. My toes have scheduled a walk-out vote.

And as for your “thousandth time,” Rob Frost, hush up!

I’ve seen this white stuff more than a thousand times, it seems like, and I’m exhausted from answering “from within.”

Now, it’s from without that I answer, from my throat to the sky: Cut in out!

Does talking to snow, to the sky, make me feel better?

A little . . . but what I like is, it puts me in R. S. Thomas’s company:

It was always weather.
The reason of our being
was to record it, telling it
how it was hot, cold, wet
to the pointlessness of saturation.
. . . It repeated itself
in a way we were never tired
of listening to. ‘Do that again,’
we implored . . . .

Hold on, Ronald. So far, I’ve been with you. But this matter of asking weather to repeat itself. It’s done enough of that lately without being asked, snow upon snow, snow upon snow.

I’m sick and tired of it taking one curtain call after another.

You hold on, John, and continue reading: ‘Do that again,’ / we implored it on the morrow / of a fine day.

Sorry for jumping the gun, Ronald; I, too, clamour for fine-day encores.


In the “January” section of his book A Year in Llŷn, Thomas often mentions the weather:

It was raining as I was driving along the Clynnog road, but above my head the slopes were already beginning to whiten. The difference a few hundred feet make!

It was only in Manafon that I experienced all the difficulties of heavy snow. What if I had been born an Eskimo and had to learn forty different names for snow, because there was so much of it?

These days, it is rain, rain, rain. Weathermen love to promise storm after storm from the Atlantic, but they never say why. Looking back, they can explain how the path of the storms changed, but they cannot say why. The weather is one great mysterious machine which continues to produce periods of fair and foul weather, heat and cold; but it keeps its secret, just as the soul refuses to tell us how it becomes incarnate in the womb. We are not, and never shall be, all-knowing.


If you don’t know Robert Frost’s poem “Snow,” which I alluded to above, here are my favorite lines:

Things must expect to come in front of us
A many times—I don’t say just how many—
That varies with the things—before we see them.
One of the lies would make it out that nothing
Ever presents itself before us twice.
Where would we be at last if that were so?
Our very life depends on everything’s
Recurring till we answer from within.
The thousandth time may prove the charm.

(The Poetry of Robert Frost, 149-150)

Poetry and Prose of R. S. Thomas quoted in this blog:

“It was always weather” – “Meteorological,” No Truce with the Furies, 28.

Assorted “weather” quotes – Autobiographies, 114, 115, 117.