03 October, 2014

Learning Poetry

I don't write about poetry on this blog very much. This is mostly because a) I know so very little about it and b) some people who might read this blog do know quite a lot about it. However, it was National Poetry Day yesterday so I thought I'd branch out.

My knowledge of poetry is limited. I don't read a lot of it, although when I do read it I wonder why I don't read more! I recently got out my tattered old copy of The Nation's Favourite Twentieth Century Poems which I loved reading as a teen. I was only meant to be looking up a line from Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas, to check I was quoting it correctly in a story I was writing, but of course I ended up reading for ages. It's full of humorous, romantic, sad and fascinating verses.

Michael Gove - the last education secretary here in the UK - said children should learn poetry by heart because "poetry is a piece of art you can own forever". Of course this meant that people, including certain poets, had to disagree with him because it's practically illegal here to agree with Michael Gove, but I personally think he's right in this case (Just this one, Mr. Gove. Just this one.) Poetry is great for language skills, public speaking skills, memory and enjoyment! What do you think? Did you learn poetry at school? Can you still remember any? I remember falling in love with Mid-Term Break by Seamus Heaney and Cousin Kate by Christina Rosetti in my English lessons.

I don't think I could choose a favourite poem. As with classical music, it would be something terribly mainstream anyway as I only know the popular stuff! I wrote out He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven by WB Yeats on my chest-of-drawers so I could read it in bed when I was about 16, and I can still remember it now. Other poems I learned by heart just for the pure joy of it include:
  • If - Rudyard Kipling
  • Not Waving But Drowning - Stevie Smith
  • Ballad of the Bread Man - Charles Causley
  • Still I Rise - Maya Angelou
  • Slough - Sir John Betjeman (I love all of his!)
I am also in love with the recording of WH Auden's poem Night Mail - you can hear it here - described by some as early hip-hop! Oooh, so many poems. What are your favourites?

I'll leave you with a poem I wrote on my bedside table in my teens because it summed up much of what I felt about life. I am an optimist!

Sometimes by Sheenagh Pugh

Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war;
elect an honest man; decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.

1 comment:

  1. I've never read much poetry. It just doesn't hold my interest. But maybe that's because I'm not reading the good stuff. :)

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