Douglas Adams poem found in school cupboard


20 March 2014
imports_WRI_0-nn7ekzzz-100000_11105.jpg Douglas Adams poem found in school cupboard
The poem was written by the Hitchhikers' Guide author in 1970, when he was 17 and a pupil at Brentwood School ...
The poem was written by the Hitchhikers' Guide author in 1970, when he was 17 and a pupil at Brentwood School
Archivist Stacy Harmer discovered the poem, and one by comedian Griff Rhys Jones, in a series of documents relating to the school's literary society, Candlesticks.
'The school at the time had various different cliques or societies,' Stacy Harmer told the Guardian. 'At Candlesticks, which admitted only a select few, they would get together and read plays. In order to join you had to write a poem on the theme of a candle, and read it aloud, and if they liked it you were allowed in.'
Harmer described Adams' poem as 'really witty.'
'I was looking through and I thought ‘that was the time he was here, wouldn’t it be fantastic if he were actually in here?' she said to the Brentwood Gazette.
'Then I thought "who else might be in there" and managed to find Griff’s work. It was wonderful.
'All of this material has been stuck in a cupboard all this time but now they can now be enjoyed once again.'
Douglas Adams' poem (below) is called A Dissertation on the task of writing a poem on a candle and an account of some of the difficulties thereto pertaining.

I resisted temptation for this declamation
To attain out to literary height
For higher aspiration in this kind of an oration
Would look really remarkably trite:
So I believed something pithy and succinct and clever
Was specifically the right point to create.

For nights I sat musing
And musing … and musing
Whilst burning the midnight oil
My scratchings seemed futile
My muse seemed very mute, although
My perform proved to be barren toil.

I puzzled and thought and wrestled and fought
‘Till my midnight oil was exhausted,
So I furthered my writing by dim candle lighting,
And located, to my joy, this of course did
The trick, for I flowered,
My perform – candle-powered –
Was inspired, the two witty and slick.

Pithy and polished, my creating demolished
Considerably paper, as I beguiled
Myself with some punning,
(My word play was spectacular,)
I wrote with the wit of a Wilde.

At length it was finished, the candle diminished,
I pondered and allow my pride burn
At the excellent acclamation, the standing ovation
Its 1st public reading would earn.

But lost in the rapture of anticipation
And contemplating how fantastic was my brilliant creation
I very failed to note as I gazed into space
That incendiary things were about to consider area:
That which had ignited my literary passion,
Was about to ignite what my passion had fashion’d.

And – oh! – all was misplaced in a fantastic conflagration
And I just sat there and mentioned ‘Hell and damnation’,
For the rest of the evening and the following day.
(My muse in the meantime had flitted away
Alarmed, no doubt, at the ornamentation
My language acquired with enhanced consternation.

So unhaply the fruits of my priceless endeavour
Are misplaced to the literary globe forever.
For now I offer this poem instead,
Which explains in itself why the other’s unsaid.

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