Dancing by the Light of the Moon

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?

You Made My Day

You made my day, I said.

I laughed.

To show

how happy she had made me.

And my cheeks hurt, because they were being forced to do what they would normally have done spontaneously.

Only this time,

My brain had ordered them to stretch,

against their will.

You made my day, I said, honestly.

And she smiled, because she made someone’s day.

You

made

my

day,

I lied through my teeth,

through my smile

which began to feel

stale

On my face.

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Image credit: River Darling

Poetry

Am I a poet?

Goodness me, no.

I certainly have never called myself one. And I never will, for I am too old!

I used to write fanciful little limericks when I was younger, inspired by Tolkien, of course. The road goes ever on, and all that, about raindrops being like bits of broken glass. Classy. My mother told me that wasn’t a pretty description, but I so forcefully loved it that I kept it in anyway. What a small large headed fool.

I wrote little descriptive rhyming bits about all the girls in my class. They aimed to be humorous, and were received very well by my chums. Aren’t chums supportive.

I wrote what I, at the time, perceived to be ‘epics’. The lines still echo through my head, labour over them as I did at the age of 12.

Here is an excerpt:

Twenty thousand years ago there dwelled an old tree

Its beauty was so great, a splendour for eyes to see

Delightful charms it laid on people who dared to walk its way

It stood there drooping by night

But sprung up to life by day…

And so on, of course. It went on to erratically, messily describe battles and passions and disease through the passage of time. It trailed off somewhere vaguely, after about 20  pages, as my mind expanded a little more and became distracted by newer, shinier ideas.

And then, I grew to despise poetry. How absurd it all is, I thought, crossly, forced to analyse bits of Dryden I didn’t understand.

It shape-shifted before my eyes. It no longer had the elven eloquence Tolkien and Lewis and Wordsworth so earnestly declared it did. It grew horns and barred me from entry by using long and complicated words as weapons. I didn’t understand, and grew frustrated because I felt left out of a club in which I once felt welcomed.

I hate poetry, I told everybody. I am a prose girl.

So. I stopped writing it. Stopped reading it.

Until, a few years later into literary maturity, I happened across Langston Hughes. My goodness but he was raw and painful. And then he opened doors to me, doors leading to forms of poetry that didn’t rhyme, but which touched emotional chords within me, written by voices stamped and ravaged through the injustices of time – not the silken, baby skin of Wordsworth, that is for sure.

There ain’t no Klu Klux, on a 133rd.

And I grew to love it again.

So, no, I am not a poet. Poetry and I have a tumultuous, often disdainful relationship. The disdain is entirely mine, I am ashamed to say.

I daren’t dabble in it, for I would not do it justice at all.

But I love to read it, and reading other people’s poetry, especially on blogs, opens my mind more and more to it. Why, poetry is almost like an old, long lost friend!

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What do you think of poetry? Do you write it? Do share some of your favourite pieces, if you feel so inclined, for I would love to read them.

Blog Share

So, I noticed that some other bloggers do this, notably Diana from Myths of the Mirror. I thought it was a wonderful way to share some of my favourite posts by bloggers – to share the lovely work of other people.

SO, without further ado, this week’s share is a beautiful little piece written by Judy Dykstra-Brown – Scraps of Her. A lovely poem about the trail of glitter children leave in our lives.

Scraps of Her

 

She was the glitter
in our all-too-literal lives.
She left a trail of it,
our littlest fairy.
It was the dust of her,
like that perfume half
school glue and half strawberries…..

Continue reading: Scraps of Her.

There Ain’t No Klu Klux, on a 133rd.

My last exam of the year today.

Did I study enough? Does anyone ever?

Eh. Who am I kidding. I didn’t study enough. I know what good studying is. At this point, there is nothing more I can study.

I will write down this poem by Langston Hughes that I memorised, though. For practise, and because it is absolutely heartrending, and it is also one of my favourite poems.

I might make some mistakes.

‘Not a Movie’ – Langston Hughes

Well, they rocked him with road apples

because he tried to vote

and whipped his head with clubs

and he crawled on his knees to his house

and he caught the midnight train

and he crossed that Dixie line

Now he’s livin’

on a 133rd.

 

He didn’t stop in Washington

and he didn’t stop in Baltimore

neither in Newark on the way.

Six knots was on his head,

But thank God, he wasn’t dead!

And there ain’t no Klu Klux,

on a 133rd. 

I probably made some mistakes. But oh how sad this all is. Hopeful, of course, but so sad that it had to happen.

‘and there ain’t no Klu Klux on a 133rd’.

I could cry.

Out of nerves, out of sadness, who knows.

Treasure

Down, down under

In the dark, snaking rut

where the rats roam free

And the filth runs amok

Deep deep down,

in dank, glistening tunnels,

eerie silence

through slimy funnels,

There lies a glinting rock,

Shining in the dark

Reflecting,

Gleaming,

Lost.

While its owner runs wild above.

‘Hank, have you seen it?’

‘Hank?’

‘HANK?!’

‘Yes, dear,’

Far, far away,

When the grimy, grey sludge,

Is belched onto shore;

A small, tan child

Reaches down,

And lifts his treasure from the mud.

 

I thought she was American

I thought she was American,

I really don’t know why.

Her frame was large,

shapely.

Her purple vintage coat,

fell over her knees

in neatly pleated frills,

Vibrant, dazzling.

Her heel was ladylike

Her hair elegantly, gently,

pulled

to the back of her head.

Her smile was wide, flamboyant.

When she opened her mouth,

her Liverpudlian syllables filled every corner of the room,

and a small stone of disappointment

dropped in my chest,

with a muffled plop.

I thought she was American.

How stereotypical am I?

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March Hare

Fleeting days

Restless nights

Cluttered corners

Of my mind

Half me here

Half me there

All of me wanting

to be elsewhere.

Unfinished essays

Unread books

 

Bits of work

In every nook

Hair needs washing

Face needs threading

Wear a hat

that’ll sort that

Body to scrub

Bath to have

Never smile

Force a laugh

Clothes to wash

Muscles to toughen

cloth and brush

dishes and ovens

Butterfly tea

snailshell toast

ground beetle gravy

over duck roast

unfinished talk

with my other half

rats scuttling

fore and aft.

Scatterbrain mind

deadlines at large

February looms

I was born in March.

Half me here

Half me there

I’m all over the place

I am a March Hare!

 

 

I am going MAD!

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Pud Muddle

I am drowning

under a pile

of

complex literary analysis.

I don’t

understand

anything.

I don’t

CARE

about

Wordsworth’s inner life.

I really am

Trying to rouse interest.

“Oh, look,” says my

Mind.

“Your mother loves Grasmere.”

Struggling to find

something in common

with

this poem.

That she does,

that she does.

Do it for her

at least.

But I don’t want to.

Coffee is not helping

not a smidgen.

Nature is beautiful

I try to tell myself

Of course it is,

Of course

But I don’t care for William’s

depiction

of it.

Perhaps I might,

if I wasn’t forced to analyse it

using intricate terms

that I can’t pronounce.

Like

ANDALIPLOSIS

and

ANTIMETABOLE

and

PLOCE

Which sounds like it should be Plaice

Like the fish.

But it isn’t.

And I haven’t the

faintest

clue

what it could be.

I have this awful deadline

which smells of rotten fish.

Or Plaice.

And

I don’t

Care

I really

Just

Want to sleep

and be cuddled.

This

Is Torture.