Tag: poetry

beside the seaside

I am lucky enough to be retreating from Real Life for a while: a week (ish) away near the Galloway coast in a house where there’s no internet and only a very feeble, intermittent phone signal. So this column will be on holiday along with me, though back as usual in a fortnight’s time. To give you a virtual visit to the sort of place I’ll be, and a vision of the sorts of creatures I hope to be gazing upon, here’s the vivid and wonderful ‘Rhu Mor‘ by Norma MacCaig. (Unfortunately I can’t find this anywhere on the internet with the poet’s own layout on the page, so we’ll have to make do with this. As consolation, you can hear MacCaig himself reading it here.)

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an unlikely trio

It’s very often time for Mary Oliver, I find, though I know those who do not agree. For those readers, best pass by. Today I wanted to read ‘Wild Geese‘, so I am. I know most people have already read it. I know that (like other Oliver texts) it’s been plundered for Pinterest posts and self-help-seminar titles and many, many Inspirational Items (posters, mugs, t-shirts, who knows what). Still, its beauty and wisdom persist—just as the Mona Lisa survives being a jigsaw. So: enjoy ‘Wild Geese’ all over again (with the plus of hearing Oliver read it).

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above the parapet

Like most people, I imagine, I’ve found it hard to keep going with my usual activities these last few months—including writing, though it’s central to my life both as process and product. There’s just so much energy needed to keep so much stuff at bay; so much effort going into not shouting with rage or terror or sheer frustration (well not in public anyway)… Time, I thought to do some celebrating. Share some good news for a change.

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a blessing

I’ve heard and read in many places these last few weeks a lot of stuff about how “we’re all in a heightened emotional state at the moment”: operating at a higher pitch; a bit more thin-skinned than usual. It’s not surprising. So I don’t know if it’s what’s going on in the macrocosm or in my own microcosm which makes me so susceptible to this poem, ‘A Blessing‘ by James Wright (have it read to you here). But susceptible I am. It moves me greatly. See what you think.

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the school in which we learn

I’ve no idea how well known this poem is, but it’s relatively new to me, and its refrains have been pulsing their steady rhythm through me for the last week or so. So here it is: ‘Calmly We Walk through This April’s Day‘ by Delmore Schwartz.

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..something completely different

At the 42 group this month (glad we made the most of it as it’s probably going to be a while…) by special request of one of the regulars we had an evening of poetry which makes us smile or laugh. It was just lovely: a different kind of light in the darkness. Wendy Cope featured a lot, as you might imagine, and her ‘Poem on the theme of humour’ reminded us of how po-faced it’s possible to be about Serious Literature and the Function of Art. ((I’d love to give you a link to the poem, but I can only find it on The Telegraph‘s site and I’ll to leave it to you as to whether you want to get involved in those particular strong toils…)

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more daffodils

Occasionally I get a bit of a painful meta-position on Being A Poet and wonder quite how tiresome we are as companions. Imagine going for a walk with us. I mean, can’t we just enjoy the first flowers of spring, for goodness’ sake? Wordsworth managed some pleasure and gratitude about the daffs (or was it Dorothy…?); Herrick, however, looks on daffs and thinks of death (a bit like Larkin and his trees, but we’ll get to that in May). I have to confess to having a fair dose of inner Herrick. I love his ‘To Daffodils’ a lot more than the Wordsworth; and, now I’ve said that, you can read the poem here while I sit back and wait to be struck down.

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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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