Welcome to week 21 of my poetry reading challenge for 2023. I’ve challenged myself to read at least one poem a week during 2023 and during the month of May, they are all going to be fantastical or magical as it’s the month of #wyrdandwonder.
I’ve gone back to reading a bit of classic poetry this week and loved this narrative poem by Shelley – The Witch of Atlas. The full poem is far too long to put on the blog but these three verses describing her are lovely.
The Witch of Atlas
‘Tis said, she first was changed into a vapour, And then into a cloud, such clouds as flit, Like splendour-winged moths about a taper, Round the red west when the sun dies in it: And then into a meteor, such as caper On hill-tops when the moon is in a fit: Then, into one of those mysterious stars Which hide themselves between the Earth and Mars.
Ten times the Mother of the Months had bent Her bow beside the folding-star, and bidden With that bright sign the billows to indent The sea-deserted sand — like children chidden, At her command they ever came and went — Since in that cave a dewy splendour hidden Took shape and motion: with the living form Of this embodied Power, the cave grew warm.
A lovely lady garmented in light From her own beauty — deep her eyes, as are Two openings of unfathomable night Seen through a Temple’s cloven roof — her hair Dark — the dim brain whirls dizzy with delight, Picturing her form; her soft smiles shone afar, And her low voice was heard like love, and drew All living things towards this wonder new.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Shelley’s witch is definitely not an old disfigured crone who scares visitors away. How beautiful to be ‘garmented in light’.
Welcome to week 20 of my poetry reading challenge for 2023. I’ve challenged myself to read at least one poem a week during 2023 and during the month of May, they are all going to be fantastical or magical as it’s the month of #wyrdandwonder.
This week I’ve been rereading the poetry of JRR Tolkein. LOTR is full of poems and songs from the drinking songs of the Prancing Pony to the sad epics sung by the elves. One of my all time favourites though comes from the very beginning of the journey when Frodo, Sam and Pippin had just spent their first night under the stars.
The Road goes ever on
The Road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began Now far ahead the Road has gone And I must follow if I can.
Pursuing it with weary feet Until it joins some larger way Where many paths and errands meet And wither then? I cannot say.
I love poems about roads and paths in the same way that I love stories about quests and journeys. This seems to me to have the same sort of mood as The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.
Welcome to week 19 of my poetry reading challenge for 2023. I’ve challenged myself to read at least one poem a week during 2023 and during the month of May, they are all going to be fantastical or magical as it’s the month of #wyrdandwonder.
You can’t have a collection of fantasy poems without including dragons somewhere. Most of the poetry featuring dragons is written for children but it doesn’t really matter who it’s written for if you enjoy it. Jack Prelutsky was one of my favourite poets to read aloud to my class when I was a full time class teacher and I love this dragon poem.
Once They all Believed in Dragons Once they all believed in Dragons When the world was fresh and young, We were woven into legends, Tales were told and songs were sung We were treated with obeisance, We were honoured, we were feared, Then one day, they stopped believing – On that day, we disappeared. Now they say our time is over, Now they say we’ve lived our last, Now we’re treated with derision Where once we ruled, unsurpassed. We must make them all remember, In some way, we must reveal That our spirit lives forever — We are dragons! We are real! Jack Prelutsky
Welcome to week 18 of my poetry reading challenge for 2023. I’ve challenged myself to read at least one poem a week during 2023 and during the month of May, they are all going to be fantastical or magical as it’s the month of #wyrdandwonder.
I began the year by reading the poems of Thomas Hardy and I’ve gone back to Hardy for this week’s poem.
Lyonnesse When I set out to Lyonnesse A hundred miles away The rime was on the spray And starlight lit my loneliness When I set out for Lyonnesse A hundred miles away.
What would bechance at Lyonnesse While I should sojourn there No prophet durst declare Nor did the wisest wizard guess What would bechance at Lyonnesse While I should sojourn there.
When I came back from Lyonnesse With magic in my eyes All marked with mute surprise My radiance rare and fathomless When I came back from Lyonnesse With magic in my eyes.
I wonder what it was that happened to the poet on his visit to the fabled land of Lyonnesse?
In reality, the poem recalls Hardy’s visit to St Juliot in Cornwall as a young architect where he first met his wife, Emma. Although that’s real life rather than fantasy, falling in love has a magic all of its own.
Week 17 of reading poems which by my reckoning means that we’re a third of the way through the year. As usual, the time is flying by.
This week, I’ve been reading some of the poetry of American poet Emily Dickinson. I’ve heard her name a lot and quotations from her poems are used quite frequently in novels but never actually read any of her poems until this week. This book is just a short collection of poems with no commentary at all and I found her poetry to be quite challenging to read. There are some gorgeous images but quite often, the subject matter changes within the poem. A lot of the poems in this collection seem to be about death but I don’t know if that is representative of her poetry as a whole.
This is quite a short poem but it stayed in my head after I read it earlier this week.
A slash of Blue – A sweep of Grey – Some Scarlet patches on the way. Compose an evening sky – A little Purple – slipped between – Some Ruby trousers hurried on – A wave of Gold – A bank of Day – This just makes out the Morning sky. Emily Dickinson
Week 16 of my Poetry Challenge saw me finish reading the collection of Spring Poems before it goes back to the library later today.
My final choice from this book is Three Good Things by Jan Dean. Gratitude and thinking of all the things that make us happy is very important in today’s world so this one seemed very appropriate. Jan Dean is a poet living in Devon who mainly now works as a children’s poet working in schools as well publishing collections of children’s poetry.
Three Good Things At day’s end, I remember Three good things.
Apples maybe-their skinshine smell and soft froth of juice.
Water maybe – the pond in the park dark and full of secret fish.
A mountain maybe – that I saw in a film, or climbed last holiday, and suddenly today it thundered up into a playground game. Or else an owl – I heard an owl today and I made bread. My head is full of all these things, It’s hard to choose just three.
I let remembering fill me up with all good things so that good things will overflow into my sleeping self,
and in the morning good things will be waiting, when I wake.
Up to week 15 and the proof that I need challenges like this to keep me on track was found last night when I suddenly realised that I hadn’t read anything for today’s blog post. Obviously I know that it doesn’t really matter if I don’t read at least one poem a week . The world isn’t going to end or even change at all. But I do enjoy reading the poems and the challenge keeps me focused.
I’m still reading my way through the Spring Collection that I have from the library at the moment.
I read a whole block of poems last night to bring me up to date in the book and the poem that stood out was this poem written by American Mary Elizabeth Frye in 1932. Although she wrote for many years, this is her only famous poem.
Do not stand at my grave and weep
Do not stand at my grave and weep I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow I am the diamond glints on snow I am the sun on ripened grain I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush I am the swift, uplifting rush Of quiet birds in circling flight I am the stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry I am not there, I did not die.
Mary Elizabeth Frye 1932
I just find this beautiful and can see why it is read so often at funerals.
Week 14 of reading at least one poem a week which means that I’ve already read at least 12 more poems than I did through the whole of last year. It’s a lot more though as I generally read several poems at a time.
This week I have a collection of poems for Spring that I have from the library
There’s a brilliant variety of poems in this book and the one that stood out for me this week is this poem by John Agard which just made me smile.
A Date with Spring Got a date with Spring Got to look me best Of all the trees I’ll be the smartest dressed
Perfumed breeze Behind me ear. Pollen accessories All in place.
Raindrop moisturiser For me face Sunlight tints To spruce up the hair
What’s the good of being a tree If you can’t flaunt your beauty?
Winter, I was naked Exposed as can be. Me wardrobe took off With the wind.
Life was a frosty slumber Now, Spring, here I come. Can’t wait to slip into Me little green number.
And we’re up to week 13 of poetry reading. This week was a bit of a challenge as it got to Thursday evening and I hadn’t read a poem or even found a poetry book to read. However, after a search of my bookshelves, hidden in between my art books, I found this gem of a book consisting of watercolours by Gordon Beningfield to accompany a selection of poems.
There are some gorgeous poems in this book but I’ve picked one that stands out at the moment as we’re just beginning blossom season and so many of the hedgerows and tress are full of pink and white blossom.
Loveliest of Trees Loveliest of trees, the cherry now Is hung with bloom along the bough And stands about the woodland ride Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now of my threescore years and ten, Twenty will not come again And take from seventy springs a score It only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look at things in bloom Fifty springs are little room About the woodlands I will go To see the cherry hung with snow.
A E Houseman
I’ve used a lot more than twenty of my three score years and ten and I think increasing years do make me more aware of the beauty of nature. I certainly do make the effort to go and visit gardens and woodlands to see the blossom and bluebells when they appear.
For week 12 of my challenge to read at least one poem, I went back to my own bookshelves to see what poetry I have. I discovered a book of Shakespeare’s Sonnets which I had completely forgotten about. I think my husband bought it for me when we performed in Kiss Me Kate as a show present. So I’ve gone from very contemporary feminist poetry to very classic sonnets. Most of them are love poems but this one seems that it could be just as much about a family member or friend.
Sonnet 30 When to the sessions of sweet silent thoughts I summon up remembrance of things past I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought And with old woes, new wail my dear time’s waste Then can I drown an eye (unused to flow) For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night And weep afresh love’s long since cancelled woe And moan th’expense of many a vanished night. Then can I grieve at grievances foregone And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan Which I new pay, as if not paid before But if the while I think on thee, dear friend All losses are restored and sorrows end
I’m certainly guilty of going over and over past events in my head and I love the idea of being able to think of a loved one and feel better.