I always say I am not a poetry person, but I don’t think that is true. I recently picked up a blue book from the library called ‘Dancing by the Light of the Moon‘, by Gyles Brandreth. The tagline at the top reads ‘How poetry can transform your memory and change your life’.
Anyway one of the biggest things mentioned in the book is that poetry is memorable speech, and very important for children. Children by nature take delight in playing with language. Studies have also shown that speaking poetry to babies and children improve their language acquisition. Children who learn poetry apparently sleep better, concentrate better and do better professionally later in life.
I don’t know too much about how true these bold statements are, however, I do know that my entire childhood was full of poetry. I devoured it. I loved it.
I memorised so many poems from classic novels. Classic writers like Susan Coolidge and L.M Montgomery liked to pepper their stories with poetry. I took great delight in these little rhymes as did my siblings. We turned them into songs and games, and I even took the pen and sat to write my own little limericks, ones that my sister still ‘sings’ to this day. Not even to tease me anymore, it’s just part of her rhythm. I once found a book filled with little limericks about all my mother’s siblings and school friends, written by her at age 11. They inspired me so much that I began to write limericks about my school teachers, subjects and classmates.
Sometimes poetry can be daunting, and not all poetry is for everyone. Some people may like simple, funny poetry. There was this one long poem by A.P. Herbert that I used to recite all the time, and it started off like:
‘Dear Madam, you have seen this play.
I never saw it till today.
You know the details of the plot,
but let me tell you, I do not.‘
It’s hilarious and wonderfully memorable. Click here to read the rest if you’re interested.
Other people like longer sonnets, or contemplative pieces like those by William Wordsworth and Lord Byron. Or short, snappy brilliant lines by Emily Dickinson.
At school, when I got a bit older, we had to study a lot of Shakespeare. I detested Shakespeare. I found his subject matter drab and dreary, and I didn’t care a penny for any of his ridiculous characters. I didn’t find them funny, or amusing or even tragic. Just plain stupid, I would say. They were a chip on my shoulder and a pain in the bottom. My teacher loved Shakespeare however, and the animation on her face as she discussed his work was enthralling. She didn’t not make me love his work any more, but her classes were always entertaining.
And it lent a thought to my curious mind.
Contrary to what some may think, poetry is for everybody. There is a poem for every single person out there, just as there is a book for everyone. The poem that is for me, may not be for you. But I do believe poetry is in all our hearts.
What is your favourite poem? Which do you know by heart, and often recite to yourself?