Poetry

No, not mine. I can’t write it in a blue fit.

But some of my readers not only read poetry but write it too, for which I applaud them.

This page is about some of the poets I have studied, enjoyed, and not enjoyed.

Maybe with a comment on each one. Unlike my other pages, I will add newer posts below because the top ones are really my very favourites.

You will get war poetry, romantic poetry, and maybe something a bit more uh? I dunno.

As I’ve only realised today, for some strange reason I don’t seem to have posted one of my very favourite poems ever.

ETA – I’ve now moved the full poems to separate pages, so this one now just contains opening verses or stanzas. Hover over the poetry page tab and the drop-down list appears for the different categories of poetry.

Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

This has to be the best war poem ever. It is not remotely sweet and glorious to die for your country. Just read Owen’s words. Owen, who sadly died a week before Armistice Day and has left us with such a powerful legacy of his wonderful poetry.

ODE ON A GRECIAN URN

By John Keats

Thou still unravished bride of quietness,
Thou foster child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
1820

I liked this. I loved the timeless beauty of the idea of the grecian urn. And everything it had seen that had gone after it was cast.

Slough

Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!
It isn’t fit for humans now,
There isn’t grass to graze a cow.
Swarm over, Death!
Come, bombs and blow to smithereens
Those air -conditioned, bright canteens,
Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans,
Tinned minds, tinned breath.

Mess up the mess they call a town-
A house for ninety-seven down
And once a week a half a crown
For twenty years.

I wasn’t fond of Betjeman and his ghastly rhythmic rhyming but I did quite like this one.

This Be the Verse

BY PHILIP LARKIN

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

Philip Larkin, “This Be the Verse” from Collected Poems. Used by permission of The Society of Authors as the Literary Representative of the Estate of Phillip Larkin.

Source: Collected Poems (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2001)

How expressive is this? Like Owen, this one just says it all so wonderfully. For some of us anyway.

Virgil : The Aeneid Book I

BkI:1-11 Invocation to the Muse

I sing of arms and the man, he who, exiled by fate,
first came from the coast of Troy to Italy, and to
Lavinian shores – hurled about endlessly by land and sea,
by the will of the gods, by cruel Juno’s remorseless anger,
long suffering also in war, until he founded a city
and brought his gods to Latium:

Translated by A. S. Kline © 2002 All Rights Reserved
This work may be freely reproduced, stored, and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose.

It was a bit of a hard slog doing the Aeneid at school but well worth it. Even if it was in the original Latin. The above is a translated snippet.

Beat! Beat! Drums!

Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows—through doors—burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
Into the school where the scholar is studying,
Leave not the bridegroom quiet—no happiness must he have now with his bride,
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his grain,
So fierce you whirr and pound you drums—so shrill you bugles blow.

The full text of this and two other poems on the American war poetry page. And some music too.

Another one by Whitman, this time about animals. (Thanks Vicky for this)

I think I could turn and live with the animals, they are so placid and self contained;
I stand and look at them long and long.

And on the animal theme – Ted Hughes.

The Jaguar

By TED HUGHES

The apes yawn and adore their fleas in the sun.
The parrots shriek as if they were on fire, or strut
Like cheap tarts to attract the stroller with the nut/
Fatigued with indolence, tiger and lion

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31 comments on “Poetry

    • Thanks for the idea. I’m already thinking about adapting it! Because this one isn’t based on posts, but full poems (mostly), I think I might do sub-pages. An extra click but easier to read which I think will outweigh the click rather than endless scrolling down.

      Dulce is such a powerful poem. There is so much to discuss about it, I think I was word perfect in it when I sat my eng lit exam! Interesting that Owen used traditional rhyming in that one, whereas by strange meeting he was using the assonant (?) style of rhyme.

      Your boys might have liked Larkin too. Given the swearing :D

      Like

    • Actually I did have a go over on my Clouds blog. Must have been a phase I was going through, but I would wake up in the morning, and the words were spinning around in my head so I churned them out. People were very kind too :)

      One of them was in Spanish – palabras, volando en el aire (words flying in the air) but I never got around to writing that one up. Might do, if it comes back to me.

      Like

        • I’ll see if it comes back to me one morning. I do add a few words of Spanish in from time to time on blog posts because it fits in my head, but then I feel the need to translate which spoils the flow, because only a handful of readers that I know speak/read/write Spanish.

          Hasta pronto :D

          Like

          • I know exactly what you mean. I lived with a mexican family in the states for over five years and sometimes in my mind I go over conversations in Spanish. lol

            Like

          • I dream in Spanish and English. I even dredged up French the other night! We speak to each other in both, pretty much llanito really. I spent Thursday dealing with a Spanish plumber who’s only English of the day was ‘mas money para mi’ !! By then I’d stopped thinking in English. Gibraltarians are very clever at switching.

            Sometimes, the Spanish words say something differently though, or sound more poetic. No sé :D

            Like

          • Aye, they can be very clever at not know what something means when it suits them, sometimes. I agree. Sometimes there are no real equivalents for Spanish words and phrases.
            I like, pobrecita, and de nada, chica. lol

            Like

    • I wished I’d worked harder at Latin, I was good enough at it but I was in a rebellious phase and had tried to drop it for O level which was not the done thing when you were in the top stream :D but the Aenead was good, beautiful imagery.

      Like

      • I never got the opportunity to do Latin, but I don’t think I would have stuck with it back then. I didn’t stick with French. But when I went to Uni, I did Ancient Greek and loved it. It made me wish I had desired to do more as a kid, but I had too many problems back then. :)

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        • I did French to O level, but took an optional class in sixth form for interest. I did latin (compulsory), and I think German (?) at uni. I did fiddle with ancient Greek. I used to go on holiday and sent postcards in greek, such fun!

          Like

          • I didn’t even go to sixth form and left school with just three CSE’s That’s how come I ended up doing a GED (High School Degree Equivalent) in Kentucky before I could take the university entrance exams.

            Like

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