'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.