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Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 10:52 am    Post subject: Favourite Poems Reply with quote

This is a place, a space, where you can share those poems which are particularly dear to you.

And if you wish to comment on your personal reasons, you're welcome...

(There is a wonderful anthology, 'America's Favourite Poems' initiated by the US Poet Laureate of the time, where the heartfelt expressions of gratitude to poems which have seen people through the good times and the hard times, are so moving that one re-reads the poems in that spirit.)


Last edited by Michael Shepherd on Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:56 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Stephen Bagnold



Joined: 27 Jun 2007
Posts: 24
Location: Blackheath, London, UK

PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a great idea, Michael.

I have a bank of poems in a file on my PC that have been garnered over the years. Some were stored away on a passing fancy; others seemed immediately to strike a chord; yet others held a kind of inexplicable fascination.

My first real introduction to poetry was Hilaire Belloc, heard and learned on my father's knee when I was about four: Henry King, whose Chief Defect was Chewing Little Bits of String, and many other such cautionary tales. Those children's rhymes, with their splendid story lines, musical, swaying metre and, for later adult ears, penetrating but gentle satire (as with the physicians, whose prognosis on the chances of the unfortunate Henry King was recorded as 'They answered, as they took their fees/There is no cure for this disease' ) were the first bewitching peep into an Aladdin's cave. Despite all the richness of adult poetry enjoyed since, they still have a special place in the heart.

Here's one, much loved then and much loved now:

There was a boy whose name was Jim:
His friends were very good to him.
They gave him tea, and cakes, and jam,
And slices of delicious ham.
They read him stories through and though,
And even took him to the Zoo-
But there it was the dreadful Fate
Befell him, which I now relate.

You know-at least you ought to know,
For I have often told you so-
That children never are allowed
To leave their nurses in a crowd;
Now this was Jim's especial foible,
He ran away when he was able,
And on this inauspicious day
He slipped his hand and ran away!
He hadn't gone a yard when - bang!
With open jaws, a lion sprang,
And hungrily began to eat
The Boy: beginning at his feet.
Now just imagine how it feels
When first your toes and then your heels
And then by gradual degrees,
Your shins and ankles, calves and knees,
Are slowly eaten, bit by bit.

No wonder Jim detested it!
No wonder that he shouted 'Hi!'
The honest keeper heard his cry,
Though very fat he almost ran
To help the little gentleman.

'Ponto!' he cried, with angry frown
'Let go, sir! Down, sir! Put it down!'

But when he bent him over Jim
The honest keeper's eyes were dim
The lion having reached his head
The miserable boy was dead.

When Nurse informed his parents they
Were more concerned than I can say:-
His mother, as she dried her eyes,
Said, 'Well-it gives me no surprise,
He would not do as he was told!'
His father, who was self-controlled
Bade all the children round attend
To James' miserable end,
And always keep a-hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse.


They are best read from a book showing Basil Blackwood's wonderful illustrations.

More from other sources to follow once others have had a chance to contribute their own.....
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Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 12:58 pm    Post subject: much loved poems Reply with quote

In those days, parents, in their rue,
just blamed themselves; sought not to sue...


Thanks, Stephen, for a first blessing on this space..

A very intelligent mate of mine believes Pam Ayres to be the ultimate poet.. I'll try to persuade him to post one of her more seemly ones...as you imply, comedy and its blowing-away of illusion holds as much philosophy as does tragedy -- Belloc gives us both !

If others are slow to post, Stephen -- more !
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Stephen Bagnold



Joined: 27 Jun 2007
Posts: 24
Location: Blackheath, London, UK

PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A quick further burst, under the radar. Can't leave Belloc without a couple of his wonderful aphorisms:

The Pacifist

Pale Ebenezer thought it wrong to fight
But Roaring Bill, who killed him, thought it right.


On a sundial

I am a sundial, turned the wrong way round,
I cost my foolish mistress fifty pound.
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John Kelly



Joined: 28 Feb 2008
Posts: 127
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

came across this gem on the net.

The Loom of Time

Man's life is laid in the loom of time
to a pattern he does not see
while the weavers and the shuttles fly
till the dawn of eternity.

Some shuttles are filled with silver threads
and some with threads of gold
while often but the darker threads
are all that they may hold.

But the weaver watches with skilful eye
each shuttle fly to and fro
and sees the pattern so deftly wrought
as the loom moves sure and slow.

God surely planned the pattern
each thread , the dark and fair
is chosen by his masters skill
and placed in the web with care.

God only knows it's beauty
and guides the shuttles which hold
the threads so unattractive
as well as the threads of gold.

Not till each loom is silent
and the shuttle ceace to fly
shall God reveal the pattern
and explain the reason why
the dark threads were as needful
in the weavers skilful hand
as the threads of gold and silver
for the pattern which he planned.

Anon.
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David Taylor



Joined: 15 Nov 2007
Posts: 254
Location: Sutton, Surrey, UK

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love this poem by ee cummings;
It evokes so much in this reader by allowing the words
to convey meaning far beyond dictionary and grammar,
of course many poems do, but this poem for me is such
a marvellous demonstration of the potential "magic"
in poetry.



anyone lived in a little how town

by E.E. Cummings (1894-1962)

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did

Women and men (both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed (but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men (both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

_________________
David


Last edited by David Taylor on Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:08 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 11:20 am    Post subject: much loved poems Reply with quote

Huge thanks for posting this, David. One of the world's most enchanting poems, imho.

Extraordinary to think now, that when he died, cummings was for the majority of American poetry readers, their favourite poet.. yet now there are few if any major poets who attempt to shake the kaleidoscope of language as he did.

The mantle awaits, David...and you shall get all the support (if critical) I can give -- and I hope, from other readers of this forum...

Michael
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Peter Blumsom



Joined: 09 Mar 2007
Posts: 1099
Location: Wembley, London, UK

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Cummings is delightful and in very 'settable' language. (It probably has been - might find out) 'forget to remember' reminds me of one of my favourite song titles, one of the Kings early Sun recordings - "I Forget To Remember To Forget You." Thanks for that, David. Something about it reminded me of this Yeats.

I went out to the hazel wood

Because a fire was in my head

And cut and peeled a hazel wand

And hooked a berry to a thread

And when white moths were on the wing

And moth like stars were flickering out

I dropped a berry in the stream

And caught a little silver trout



When I laid it on the floor

I went to blow the fire a-flame

But something rustled on the floor

And someone called me by my name (oooh eery)

It had become a glimmering girl

With apple blossom in her hair

Who called me by my name and ran

And faded through the brightening air



Though I am old with wandering

Through hollow lands and hilly lands

i will find out where she has gone

And kiss her lips and take her hands

And walk among long dappled grass

And pluck till time and times are done

The silver apples of the moon

The golden apples of the sun.

Of course the last line was taken by Ray Bradbury as the title of his equally eery sci-fi story and subsequent film. I have set this but as yet haven't shown it to anyone.
Pete


Last edited by Peter Blumsom on Tue Mar 18, 2008 12:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 3:49 pm    Post subject: much loved poems Reply with quote

Pete, you'd be on to a winner with the ee cummings...and those Irish craic pub singers would love that early Yeats with accordeon accompaniment... Poetry Forum Goes on the Road... cummings to a comprehensive near you...
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Stephen Bagnold



Joined: 27 Jun 2007
Posts: 24
Location: Blackheath, London, UK

PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2008 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The flame was lit by Belloc at a tender age. But when I was 11, my English teacher, Richard Dumbreck, a wonderful man who made a great impression on me, spent an unforgettable hour explaining iambic pentameters using Gray’s Elegy (or as I see Michael dubbed it Grey Lethargy in a Country Graveyard) as a model. At that moment something really entered my soul. I can recall as yesterday the desk at which I was sitting, the view of the classroom in the evening light, the little upturned dishes and dashes Dumbreck drew with a pencil above the words to show the relative emphasis of each syllable, the way the words slotted together in a perfect pattern, and the shared, developing wonder and sheer joy of it all.

The poem itself is well known and can be found all over the net – see, for example, http://www.blupete.com/Literature/Poetry/Elegy.htm. Its gentle but penetrating philosophical tone is sharpened by constant contrasts between rich and poor, simplicity and complexity, rustics and great men of state, fame and obscurity, life and death – all most exquisitely expressed. What is perhaps less well known is that it originally existed in two distinct versions, of which the first, which Gray rejected, finished as follows:

The thoughtless World to Majesty may bow
Exalt the brave, & idolize Success
But more to Innocence their Safety owe
Than Power & Genius e'er conspired to bless

And thou, who mindful of the unhonour'd Dead
Dost in these Notes their artless Tale relate
By Night & lonely Contemplation led
To linger in the gloomy Walks of Fate

Hark how the sacred Calm, that broods around
Bids ev'ry fierce tumultuous Passion cease
In still small Accents, whisp'ring from the Ground
A grateful Earnest of eternal Peace

No more with Reason & thyself at Strife
Give anxious Cares & endless Wishes room
But thro the cool sequester'd Vale of Life
Pursue the silent Tenor of thy Doom.


The last two lines can be read in at least two ways. Most obviously, perhaps, they can be seen as exhorting a cop-out: stay out of trouble, boys, a quiet life’s best. But it can perhaps also be seen as a most beautiful articulation of something close to ‘an ever fixed mark which looks on tempests and is never shaken’. ‘The silent tenor’ need not mean weakness, hugging the shadows etc; it could also be taken to suggest the simple acceptance of a duty to meet, as best one may, the challenge of whatever fate presents one with. Thus the ‘cool sequester’d vale’ becomes a refuge not for the individual but for the soul. Any other views here?
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Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2008 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stephen -- grovel...! I too love that poem; my comment was directed at the poetry which just misses that ever-fixed mark...

It's a shame that words lose their newly-minted glory. In the country village church choirs such as Thomas Hardy depicted, the tenor (and I've seen it spelt 'tener' too, from that holdfast Latin word) was the man who held fast to the familiar tune; while the rest harmonised spontaneously (intentionally or not; most frequently a fifth or half-cut above or below).

And 'doom' as in The Domesday Book and Domesday itself, was not disaster or a tragic end in bathos, but the just judgment of a merciful God as Gray depicts; the judgment of the self itself...

Thanks for that. How we forget the small, timeless miracles of teachers who leave us with a legacy for life. I remember the music master pressing on me a copy of V. Sackville-West's long poem-book 'The Land'...there was poetry, it seemed, outside the classroom too..

Then the next music master had us perform Constant Lambert's riotously scrupulous setting of Dame Edith Sitwell's 'Rio Grande' ... and the mad luxuries of spoken and savoured poetry hit the button too...
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Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many years back, there was a evening's presentation at Sarum Chase organised by Kenneth Verity, illustrating the Steps of Devotion. (And it was quite difficult to find any poetry which matched the last two steps, apart from Saint Teresa and John of the Cross...)

There was a poem read which stuck with me, but I couldn't trace. Happily, Kenneth has included it in his book 'On the Nature of Poetry' on p.177 and it's by Rilke:

Song of Love


Tell us, poet, what is it you do ? -- I praise. But the
deadly and monstrous things, how can you bear them, how
can you accept them ? -- I praise. But even what is
nameless, what is anonymous, how can you call upon it ? --
I praise. What right have you to be true in every
disguise, beneath every mask ? -- I praise. And how is it
that both calm and violent things, like star and storm,
know you for their own ? -- Because I praise.
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Elizabeth Maulton



Joined: 14 Mar 2008
Posts: 35
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 4:23 pm    Post subject: Favourite Poems Reply with quote

This is of such beauty. The gentle rhythm and play of vowels
combined with a vision of another world.

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W.B.Yeats
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Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Elizabeth..there are a number of poems by Yeats which I would happily add here -- such as 'Prayer for My Daughter' and 'When you are old and grey and full of sleep...'

Curiously, my memory has long misquoted that last line as 'tread softly, for you tread on my dreams'... maybe because it sounds to me more euphonious... perhaps it's the Irish lilt that makes the line sound different ?
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Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This topic thread is evidently popular... so it could benefit from more of these loved poems --- please ?
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