It is 5 years since I started blogging!! I can’t believe it! So much has happened in my writing life just because of this blog so THANK YOU to everyone who has kept reading over the years! I celebrate with, what else? A post about poetry…xxxx
Last week I was challenged by the lovely Lorna Fergusson, writer and inspirational creative writing teacher at Fictionfire, to post four poems in four days on my Facebook timeline. Normally, this is not something that would cause me too much of a problem – I love poetry, as anyone who reads my blog even occasionally knows. But I am in a funny place work/writing wise at the moment and I just couldn’t allow myself to be distracted. To have the opportunity to think about poetry when I was supposed to be doing client work was, it pains me to say, almost too tempting to resist. I closed my eyes to my favourite anthologies, Keats books and The Poetry Archive website and cracked on with designing a website and proofreading ( a rather marvellous) manuscript about a holocaust survivor. But oh, it almost HURT!!
So, as I saw the Virtual Victorian (writer of sumptuous gothic, Essie Fox) post Maya Angelou today, I thought I would give myself a break, as it is Friday and I have worked jolly hard this week. The remit of the challenge was not to post four favourite poems (although why post something I don’t enjoy? Sorry Byron…) but presumably to offer readers something interesting in their timeline. In that I failed dismally, so I will try really hard here to offer a selection I hope you will simply enjoy, find thought-provoking or moving. Here goes:
Firstly, a beautiful sonnet written by a contemporary poet – one that is not as well-known as other love poems regularly read at weddings, but which perhaps should be…
From time to time our love is like a sail
and when the sail begins to alternate
from tack to tack, it’s like a swallowtail
and when the swallow flies it’s like a coat;
and if the coat is yours, it has a tear
like a wide mouth and when the mouth begins
to draw the wind, it’s like a trumpeter
and when the trumpet blows, it blows like millions….
and this, my love, when millions come and go
beyond the need of us, is like a trick;
and when the trick begins, it’s like a toe
tip-toeing on a rope, which is like luck;
and when the luck begins, it’s like a wedding,
which is like love, which is like everything.
And secondly, one of the saddest, most moving poems to a lost child, full of searing grief and pain, but beautiful nonetheless…
On my First Son
Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
My sin was too much hope of thee, lov’d boy.
Seven years tho’ wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
O, could I lose all father now! For why
Will man lament the state he should envy?
To have so soon ‘scap’d world’s and flesh’s rage,
And if no other misery, yet age?
Rest in soft peace, and, ask’d, say, “Here doth lie
Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry.”
For whose sake henceforth all his vows be such,
As what he loves may never like too much.
This one is a current favourite, because three weeks ago I spent three hours at Sharandy’s on the Blackdown Hills, one-to-one with hawks and owls, flying a Harris Hawk and handling similar fabulous and always wild raptors…
Close-up on a Sharp-shinned Hawk
Concentrate on her attributes:
the accipiter’s short
roundish wings, streaked breast, talons fine
and slender as the x-ray of a baby’s hand.
The eyes (yellow in this hatchling
later deepening to orange then
blood red) can spot
a sparrow at four hundred metres and impose
silence like an overwhelming noise
in which you must not listen
Suddenly, if you’re not careful, everything
goes celluloid and slow
and threatens to burn through and you
must focus quickly on the simple metal band around her leg
by which she’s married to our need to know.
And finally, it has to be Keats, of course. I didn’t want to post poems already on this blog so I thought you might like an extract from the beginning of the long, narrative poem Hyperion. I think the landscape is inspired by his trip to the Lake District in 1818, it so evokes those wet valleys and deep, dark forests…
From Hyperion Book 1
Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and eve’s one star,
Sat gray-hair’d Saturn, quiet as a stone,
Still as the silence round about his lair;
Forest on forest hung above his head
Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there,
Not so much life as on a summer’s day
Robs not one light seed from the feather’d grass,
But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.
A stream went voiceless by, still deadened more
By reason of his fallen divinity
Spreading a shade: the Naiad ‘mid her reeds
Press’d her cold finger closer to her lips.
Along the margin-sand large foot-marks went,
No further than to where his feet had stray’d,
And slept there since. Upon the sodden ground
His old right hand lay nerveless, listless, dead,
Unsceptred; and his realmless eyes were closed;
While his bow’d head seem’d list’ning to the Earth,
His ancient mother, for some comfort yet.
Anyway, thanks to Lorna for the inspiration. Poetry nurtures and speaks to our souls in a way nothing else can. Do find your own favourites and let me know what they are!!