Thursday, 28 May 2009


I'm not a great poetry reader. I admit that it used to leave me cold when I was forced to read it, and often learn it by heart, at school. Having said that, there are a couple of poems from my schooldays that I seem to have a kind of affinity for, although I am not sure why.

The first of these is 'Cargoes' by John Masefield. I remember it being read to us when I was at primary school, and I'm pretty certain that we had to learn it by heart. I think that what I like about this poem is the wonderful descriptions of each of the three vessels moving in the water, and the differences in their respective cargoes. The metre of each verse seems to match the way in which the ship would move through the water; there is a feeling of the pulling of oars in the first verse, the wind filling the sails of the galleon in the second verse and blowing it steadily home, while the coaster in the third verse seems to be attacking the wind and waves of the North Sea with such vigour.

The second poem that I still enjoy reading is 'In Westminster Abbey' by John Betjeman. Many of Betjeman's poems have an element of humour to them and I think that what appeals to me most about this poem is the things that this lady is praying for. She would have probably seen herself as a 'good Christian' but she is extremely selfish and is really praying only for herself; the last two lines show her for the hypocrite that she is, just praying to fill in the time before her next appointment.

The programmes that have been shown on BBC2 this week about John Donne and John Milton have made me a little more interested in reading their work, but I am not absolutely certain that I am up to reading all of Paradise Lost. Another programme that I have enjoyed recently was the programme on BBC4 'Ian Hislop's Changing of the Bard', a typically amusing look by Ian Hislop at the various poets who have held the post of Poet Laureate, and how holding the post could have a very detrimental effect on their output, always assuming that their poetry was any good in the first place.

I am sure that I will continue to watch some of the programmes in the series, and I may even find myself reading more poetry simply for pleasure, but I'm not sure whether I would ever find myself drawn to write any.

1 comment:

K8B said...

I have Paradise Lost on CD and am slowly working through it. Its worth listening to - Poetry should be read out loud, although that can be a problem on public transport in a cafe...

Sometimes my concentration can only cope with poetry rather than any more sustained. I also I'm in love with Ted Hughes voice so I have several of his CDs. His voice calms me and reassures me that 'this too will pass'. Afterall he survived the suicides of his wife and his girlfriend...