Thursday 1 August 2013

Thursday 1st August - Discovering Poetry

I've just finished a chapter on poetry in Cultural Amnesia. It's very hard to avoid typing out the whole chapter again here.

Some of it was about memorising poetry, which links into my thoughts on memorising music - I've highlighted them for future consideration, and maybe creating a post over on

Some of it is on reading prose and poetry in the original language, which I've already posted about. He covers this topic elsewhere in the book.

Some of it is about poetry itself; rhythm and metre and rhyme.

As a result of reading this chapter, I spent a lot of time today (on the train, on the underground, in waiting rooms, in cafes) reading poems, courtesy of the internet:  and also and also on my Kindle, where I loaded Palgrave's Golden Treasury for free a couple of weeks ago.

On the tube, I read this, one of the series of "Poems on the Underground", which just happened to be opposite me, (above the head of the young man I'd had a word with about abandoning his take-away bag on the platform - "yeah, it's naughty of me, I know" he said. I gave him the look I usually reserve for a certain child in year 3 at a certain school)

The Conversation of Old Men  

Thom Gunn

He feels a breeze rise from
the Thames, as far off
as Rotherhithe, in
intimate contact with
water, slimy hulls,
dark wood greenish
at waterline - touching
then leaving what it
lightly touches; he
goes on talking, and this is
the life of wind on water.

Then, following a lead from Clive James, I read Shelley - "Ode to the West Wind"
did you know that the last line of that is "If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?" I didn't, although I have come across that quotation. It's a brilliant poem! Shines like precious metal, sings like a symphony. Such amazing structure, rhythm, such a demanding rhyming structure...

Then, following another side alley of Clive James'  I read Philip Larkin's "The Whitsun Weddings" and that's another "wow" again. I love the changes in pace, the observation, the thought behind the words. I could see the whole thing in my head like a picture, or a film, unreeling in front of me.

These three poems are as different as Schumann to Delius to Philip Glass. I have entered a new world.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for the tip about Palgrave's Golden Treasury free for Kindle - just got it! Do you know the Poetry Chaikhana blog, a lovely daily dose of poetry!