Tag: compassion

an independent ambassador for conscience

Here’s Ellen Hinsey on poetry: ‘Poetry is the conscience of a society… No individual poem can stop a war—that’s what diplomacy is supposed to do. But poetry is an independent ambassador for conscience: it answers to no one, it crosses borders without a passport, and it speaks the truth. That’s why… it is one of the most powerful of the arts”. Given what’s been going on in the world these last couple of weeks it feels like one of those too-apt-to-be-a-coincidence coincidences that I should meet Hinsey’s words in the same week as someone should bring to the 42 group Larkin’s ‘Homage to a Government’.

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silent watches

The silent watches of the night haven’t been so silent of late. I live just round the corner from a popular pub, so some of the noise has had to do with En-ger-land (glad that’s over). But a lot has been generated by some extremely vocal owls who have, I swear, taken to sitting on a windowsill very near me in order to have protracted conversations in the small hours. It’s so loud! Fortunately, it’s lovely too.

Owls seem to be one of those things lots of poets bang on about. Edward Thomas’s ‘The Owl‘ is one of my favourites.

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the possibility of miracle

I’m writing this at Gladstone’s Library in North Wales. It’s St David’s Day in 3 days’ time (it’ll be in the rear view mirror by the time this goes live) and a watery nearly-spring sunshine is lifting the air outside. How fitting, then, to read ‘Miracle on St David’s Day’ by Gillian Clarke, a wonderful Welsh poet, about springs of different sorts and the magic wrought by poetry. Be moved by this lovely poem here.

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reading poems, reading us

Last week we were talking about how Gilbert’s ‘Failing and Flying’ makes visible all sorts of assumptions embedded in our (Western) culture. This week, I want to think about how reading makes visible things inside ourselves, which we may or may not have been aware of. And I want to start with what I think is a remarkable poem, written by my 13 year old goddaughter. It formed the front page of a card she sent me a few weeks ago. Here it is:

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‘poetry is what makes the invisible appear’

Well, yes. It does. That’s one of the things that’s brilliant about it.
Think, for instance, of Jack Gilbert’s ‘Failing and Flying’, with its casual, almost conversational, opening line: ‘Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew’. In just those six words an entire culture is conjured, one where only winners matter and product always trumps process.

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