Tuesday, 3 May 2011

30 Day Poetry Challenge - Days 4 to 6

Day 4: A poem that disturbs you


'Meeting the British' by Paul Muldoon


We used to take the kids swimming on a Saturday morning. During the respite of the car ride home, I'd sneak a look at the Review section of the Guardian, in particular the Saturday poem. I got so caught up in this one that the last line made me jump.




Day 5: A poem that reminds you of someone


Stanza 72 of Edward FitzGerald’s translation of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (1st ed)


My primary school headteacher, Mr Harris – Sir to his face, Pop behind his back. A bit growly, but dedicated to the education of his working class pupils. He wrote the first two lines of this stanza in my autograph book when I was 11. Even then I felt its regret.

'Alas, that Spring should vanish with the Rose!
That Youth's sweet-scented Manuscript should close!
The Nightingale that in the Branches sang,
Ah, whence, and whither flown again, who knows!'



Here with illustration by Dulac




Day 6: A poem that reminds you of somewhere

Years of childhood church-going grained me with the language and cadences of the bible and those wonderful, mystical hymns I was permitted to stand on the pew to sing.  How I loved their chariots of wrath and dark paths on the wings of the storm! Perhaps the greatest feast for my four-year-old imagination was John Bunyan's 'Who Would True Valour See' - the unsanitised version, of course, here sung in hey nonny nonny, two-sheets-to-the-wind fashion by Maddy Prior.



2 comments:

  1. I tracked down Muldoon's reading of 'Meeting the British' on his website. It all sounds so (faux) peaceful until that inescapably pointed word "smallpox". Dulac fits Fitzgerald fine! I only remember one discerning comment a teacher made in a yearbook of mine, an English teacher when I was 14: "I see Queen Mab hath been with you." And now Maddy Prior! She seems to give even the old Puritan Bunyan a merry twinkle.

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  2. Yes, it really does lull you into a false sense of security. And oh, the ignominy of British history ... :-(

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