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Laurence Inman’s Blog

SO, WHAT IS THERE?

18-06-2009

You want philosophy? You got it, courtesy of the poetical Mr Inman.

People are always saying to me: ‘Mr Inman, sir, how long does it take you to write one of your brilliant poems ?’

Actually, that’s a complete lie.

But I’m going to tell you anyway.

Sometimes it takes only as long as the time I spend writing it down. Usually though it needs a day or two. Possibly a week. With touchings-up a month maybe.

The longest is 37 years.

One day in 1969 I sat down in the Whitworth Hall, Manchester, to do my first year Philosophy exam. One of the questions was: What is there ? Note the italic.

I could have answered this question but I was so peeved at the thought of the smart-arsed lecturer who dreamt it up that I went for What are the logical consequences of treating existence as a predicate? instead.

I did four pages on that.

Not long afterwards I thought it might make a good subject for a short poem, a clerihew perhaps.

Then in December 2006 there was a tornado in Kensal Rise, north London. It wasn’t as bad as our tornado the year before, but it frightened some cockneys shitless, so a few TV news teams went along to do a piece.

They found the local nutter they were looking for, staring, shoeless, blaming the council for not warning him. They asked him their usual fool question: ‘Your house has nearly been sucked up into the swirling sky. You might never have seen your family and dog again. How bad do you feel ?’

He didn’t answer as I would if ever I were asked that question: ‘On a scale of 100, exactly 32.76.’

He said: ‘I’ve heard a noise. I look outside and everything’s everywhere.’
(Note the admirable use of the footballer’s past tense, swerving seamlessly into the ever-present which all such people inhabit.)

As soon as the words were out of his mouth I was flown back, as if by a time-tornado, to that sweltering June day in 1969.....what is there ?

This is the result. Thirty-seven years’ work

The Answer.

I have heard a noise.
I look outside.
Everything is everywhere,
I should think.

I have made a cup of tea.
I glance around.
What is there ?
Everything. It’s everywhere.

I have sat down.
I think, quite hard.
Everywhere, everywhere
If full of everything.

I have concluded
What now seems clear:
What is there
Is what there is.

And it is, plainly,
Everywhere.
Where else
Could it possibly be?

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