Deep Sorriness Atonement Song

By Glyn Maxwell b. 1962 Glyn Maxwell

for missed appointment, BBC North, Manchester

The man who sold Manhattan for a halfway decent bangle,
He had talks with Adolf Hitler and could see it from his angle,
And he could have signed the Quarrymen but didn’t think they’d make it,
So he bought a cake on Pudding Lane and thought ‘Oh well I’ll bake it’
       But his chances they were slim,
       And his brothers they were Grimm,
       And he’s sorry, very sorry,
       But I’m sorrier than him.

And the drunken plastic surgeon who said ‘I know, let’s enlarge ’em!’
And the bloke who told the Light Brigade ‘Oh what the hell, let’s charge ’em,’
The magician with an early evening gig on the Titanic,
       And the mayor who told the people of Atlantis not to panic,
       And the Dong about his nose
       And the Pobble re his toes,
       They’re all sorry, really sorry,
       But I’m sorrier than those.

And don’t forget the Bible, with the Sodomites and Judas,
And Onan who discovered something nothing was as rude as,
And anyone who reckoned it was City’s year for Wembley,
And the kid who called Napoleon a shortarse in assembly,
       And the man who always smiles
       ’Cause he knows I have his files,
       They’re all sorry, truly sorry,
       But I’m sorrier by miles.

And Robert Falcon Scott who lost the race to a Norwegian,
And anyone who’s ever spilt the pint of a Glaswegian,
Or told a Finn a joke or spent an hour with a Swiss-German,
Or got a mermaid in the sack and found it was a merman,
       Or him who smelt a rat,
       And got curious as a cat,
       They’re all sorry, deeply sorry,
       But I’m sorrier than that.

All the people who were rubbish when we needed them to do it,
Whose wires crossed, whose spirit failed, who ballsed it up or blew it,
All notchers of nul points and all who have a problem Houston,
At least they weren’t in Kensington when they should have been at Euston.
       For I didn’t build the Wall
       And I didn’t cause the Fall
       But I’m sorry, Lord I’m sorry,
       I’m the sorriest of all.

Glyn Maxwell, “Deep Sorriness Atonement Song” from The Breakage: Poems. Copyright © 1999 by Glyn Maxwell. Reprinted by permission of Glyn Maxwell.

Source: The Breakage: Poems (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1999)

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Poet Glyn Maxwell b. 1962


Subjects Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

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 Glyn  Maxwell


Born in England to Welsh parents, Glyn Maxwell was educated at Oxford University and Boston University, where he studied both poetry and theater with Derek Walcott. This simultaneous training in two disciplines has enabled him to create innovative work across genres. Maxwell has written numerous verse plays as well as long narrative poems. The Sugar Mile (2005), a verse narrative set in a Manhattan bar a few days before . . .

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SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire, Social Commentaries, History & Politics


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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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