Lucy Vickery

Ode worthy | 3 November 2016

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In Competition No. 2972 you were invited to supply an ode on a Grayson Perry urn. Frank McDonald wasn’t keen: ‘Do Grayson Perry urns deserve an ode?/ Has modern art not shamed the Muse enough?/ That looks for beauty in a tortured toad/ And loads our galleries with frightful stuff?’ Elsewhere, the entry was chock-full of adroit Keatsian references. The deserving winners take £20 each.

A form of classic shape and grace,

Here covered in graffiti style,

Which offers us a Janus face,

Half snarl, half smile.

It looks at once both butch and fey;

A line that joins the modish dots

To illustrate a crafty way

Of making pots.

It’s true, of course, that ancient Greeks

Made lust and war a common theme

On vases not the chaste antiques

Of Keatsian dream.

But potters then worked namelessly,

Content as artists to exult

In god-sent skills, not aim to be

Themselves a cult.

W.J. Webster

Thou still unvarnished piece of crockery!

Calm and serene in Keatsian quietness,

Your silent form will brook no mockery,

Your flowery tale matches the potter’s dress.

What wild abstractions, colourful and gay!

No more the longing nymphs or unheard rhymes.

Your Attic shape, though, cannot be displaced

To any attic! Form is what must stay.

You and your maker typify our times.

Beauty and truth are relative, like taste.

Brian Murdoch

Thou bride — or art thou bridegroom in bride’s dress? —

Thou piping, timbrel-jangling history’s child

Adorned in every hue but quietness,

Near ecstasy, approximately wild,

Thy gloss post-modern on a classic shape

Excites, affronts and charms at the same time;

Intoxicated as by some mad grape,

We hear thy maker clang his eldritch chime.

Thy goddesses and gods, thy girls and boys

Attend for ever to sweet, unheard song,

Or not so sweet sometimes perhaps; just joy’s

Loud palette with no dark notes might feel wrong.

Thy scenes hint at some yet unfolding way

As brides/grooms ravish one another’s eyes

And learn a new, unspoken mode of play.

Thou art true beauty, not mere Turner Prize.

Chris O’Carroll

Grayson, Grayson, Queen of Kitschy,

Wild and witty, bold and bitchy,

How I love your Grayson basin,

Big enough to wash your face in,

How I love your urn!

Grayson, Grayson, Queen of Pissness,

Sheer epitome of thisness,

Grayson in your party frock, a

Visage, ravaged like a boxer,

How I love your urn!

Grayson, Grayson, Queenly Potter,

Clay, ceramic, Terra Cotta,

Grayson, flaming like a comet,

Make the middle-classes vomit.

How I love your urn!

John Whitworth

I’d love to have a Grayson Perry urn

To brighten up my bedsit. It would say

Good morning to my mess, nor would it spurn

The coffee stains time hasn’t wiped away.

I’d love to own an urn by Grayson Perry

And put it in a place for all to see.

Possessing it would make existence merry

And tell the world that fate had smiled on me.

A Grayson Perry urn would shine delight

On places where a dozen flies lie dead,

And should I wake despondent in the night

I’d take my Grayson Perry into bed.

Alas, I’m always one step from depression,

And fortune sniggers, everywhere I turn,

So if I cannot have that prized possession

I’d like to be a Grayson Perry urn.

Max Ross

A Grayson, not a Grecian, urn

Appears to take the piss,

Bemusing simple souls who yearn

For flowery tales. Get this:

Picture a tree. It’s bare and blue.

Picture some famous names.

Dial up your mind and tune it to

Interpretation games.

The oddball birds who throng the tree?

The highbrow names misspelt?

A scripto-visual mystery,

It makes your brain stem melt.

Some say it’s art and some say not,

Just rubbish for the bin.

Who knows? But it could be a pot

To keep some hashish in.

Basil Ransome-Davies

This urn called ‘Troubled’ troubled is, for sure,

Its curious decorations make no sense:

A car parked by a cottage dark and dour;

Four paintings on its wall; a broken fence;

A chimney stack bedaubed with X and S

(Which, possibly, denotes X marks the Spot);

Bare trees; a swirly sky; — all meaningless,

In short it’s just a weird, peculiar pot

That tells us nothing much although we know

That car will never leave its parking place,

No leaves will ever on those branches grow

Nor any in that cottage show his face.

Was he who made this troubled urn inept?

One has to ask, what is the point of it?

Perhaps this pot no purpose has except

To hide some sorry soul’s cremated grit.

Alan Millard

No. 2975: changing fashions

You are invited to submit your own nine-line twist on Robert Herrick’s poem ‘Whenas in silks my Julia goes’, beginning your version ‘Whenas in [__] my Julia [__]’. Please email entries to by midday on 16 November.