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Friday, 4 April 2014


'Do you read much poetry?' a friend recently asked. This particular friend is a keen calligrapher and produces beautiful work, often inspired by poetry. The answer to this question, I am afraid, was 'No'.

I do read poetry from time to time but we have a sporadic relationship, poetry and I. There is a thick book of poems by Robert Frost next to my bed. I possess the New Oxford Book of English Verse, The Faber Book of Nonsense Verse, The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen and Poem For The Day edited by Nicholas Albery among others. So my taste is certainly varied!

From my childhood I have The Puffin Book of Verse. It is rather tattered but brings back vivid memories of having to learn a considerable portion of The Song of  Hiawatha by Tennyson when I was only 9 years old. Almost the very first things I remember my father reading to me are poems from A.A. Milne's Now We are Six and When We Were Very Young and I still have those very books.

I feel that there should be poetry in my blood. My aunt wrote poetry, bringing her observational skills and incisive eye to the page. She wrote just for fun but my father's cousin takes his poetry more seriously. It is a large part of his life and he has had his poems published as well as given recitals. His work has the ability to touch the emotions. My grandfather and great-grandfather were apparently fond of Tennyson and Keats. So why do I not embrace this art form more? I think to be honest I am a little in awe of it. Because I feel my own poetry writing skills are so inadequate, maybe reading it reminds me a little of my own failings.

Last weekend, for Mothering Sunday my son bought me a little book of Ten Poems About Cats by Candlestick Press. I have enjoyed reading those poems and as a result of this and my friend's initial question, resolved to include more poetry in my life. Before this week and this post I didn't even know my daughter's favourite poem. But here it is, the incomparable Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare:-

                                                Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate,
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date,
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st,
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Not much can beat that but in the following days, as I write, I shall try to remember these words from Charles Baudelaire:-

Always be a poet, even in prose.

Thank-you for reading, have a good week and if you have time I'd love to know your favourite poems.

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