Thursday, 20 August 2015

Poetry and me

Everything comes back to my mum. She taught me to read and write at the age of 3, using a book from the public library called 'Tip The Dog' She also taught me to recite 'Someone' by Walter De La Mer. She loved books, even though she was always too busy to read herself. I think she had an ulterior motive, because by the time I was 8, while she was ironing or doing something else equally boring, she would pass me the newspaper to read to her. She actually missed quite a lot, as in her day, most children left school at 14 and began work.

One of the Tip learning to read books

The first poem I wrote myself was one about autumn, when I was five. Can't remember much of it, but it was something like: "Autumn leaves are falling down, red and green, gold and brown." Not bad for a 5 year old. Anyway, my class teacher liked it and suggested that the school pianist set it to music and I spent about an hour while the pianist mucked about with chords, but we never managed to do it. This disappointed me, and I didn't write any more for years. In fact when I went to grammar school, we would have poetry classes and I HATED it.

But when I turned 40 a few years ago (ahem) I decided I enjoyed poetry after all. Alfred Lord Tennyson is one of my favourites. The Lady of Shalott being my most favourite. Here is my favourite verse in my favourite poem by my favourite poet:

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

She left the web, she left the loom
She made three paces thro' the room
She saw the water-flower bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look'd down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
'The curse is come upon me,' cried
The Lady of Shalott.

It is a rather long poem, so that's all you're getting. Another favourite by Tennyson is Mariana, again a long poem, so here is just one verse:

All day within the dreamy house, 
The doors upon their hinges creak'd; 
The blue fly sung in the pane; the mouse 
Behind the mouldering wainscot shriek'd, 
Or from the crevice peer'd about. 
Old faces glimmer'd thro' the doors, 
Old footsteps trod the upper floors, 
Old voices call'd her from without. 
She only said, "My life is dreary, 
He cometh not," she said; 
She said, "I am aweary, aweary, 
I would that I were dead!" 

You might think these are rather gloomy, and you'd be right, but I do have some favourites that are rather more light hearted. Here's one I wrote myself (yes, honest).

Jennifer Bream

I used to envy Jennifer Bream
her long red hair and skin like cream,
her eyes that sparkled like Emeralds fine,
I used to wish these things were mine.
But you wanted a girl with cheeks like a Rose
and freckles across the bridge of her nose,
with glossy brown hair and dark chocolate eyes.
You wanted me - to my surprise.
So now I don’t envy Jennifer Bream,
her near perfect looks are no longer my dream,
because Jennifer Bream doesn’t have you —
but I do.

And one for Christmas:

The Disgruntled Fairy

Well - here I am,
look at me;
the fairy on top of the Christmas tree.
Dress all torn,
wings all tattered -
and a magic wand that's bent and battered.
My rosy cheeks are a little bit faded
and my smile is looking decidedly jaded.
I wish that Christmas was over and done
as these pine needles stick in my bum,
but I'll just sit tight,
even though
I suffer from serious vertigo!
For two whole weeks I'm perched up here
then it's back in the box for another year,
squashed between a bauble and a bell
no wonder I end up looking like hell.
I suppose one day they'll throw me out
with the left over turkey and brussel sprouts
'til then they gaze at me from afar -
but I wish they'd swap me for a bloomin' star!

Silver, by Walter De La Mer

Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in silver feathered sleep
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream. 

Finally, one by Sarah Teasdale - The Look.

Strephon kissed me in the spring,
Robin in the fall,
But Colin only looked at me
And never kissed at all.

Strephon's kiss was lost in jest,
Robin's lost in play,
But the kiss in Colin's eyes
Haunts me night and day.

And so, I still keep trying. Some would say very trying. I'm still waiting to write my masterpiece, if I ever do, you'll be the first to know.

1 comment:

  1. I love the ones by Tennyson, after yours of course, and those poems are also subjects in my favourite paintings, by the wonderful J. W. Waterhouse. The pre Raphealites also did paintings on them both and would engrave the words of the verse they were depicting on the frames. Art and poetry hand in hand as they should be. Xx