Persons from Porlock: Smith, MacNeice, Thomas

It was not right of Coleridge in fact it was wrong
(But often we all do wrong)
As the truth is I think he was already stuck
With Kubla Khan.

He was weeping and wailing: I am finished, finished,
I shall never write another word of it,
When along comes the Person from Porlock
And takes the blame for it.

Illustration to Stevie Smith's 'Thoughts About the Person from Porlock'
Illustration of Stevie Smith’s ‘Thoughts About the Person from Porlock’ (1962)

Coleridge’s Person from Porlock had a good few outings in the mid-twentieth-century.

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Is There Life Beyond The Gravy? Stevie Smith and Sarah Kane

[TW: rape]

It was a wonderfully sunny day; the willowherb waved in the ruins and the white fluff fell like snow. But alas – Celia glanced at the blue-faced clock in the Ministry tower – it was eleven o’clock.

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