Surely everyone has their favourite poem or poems, and poetry’s recent resurgence in popularity is reflected in our U3A’s need for two poetry groups: Poetry Appreciation and Poetry Reading.
This month, one of the nation’s favourites, chosen by the Poetry Appreciation group:
BY JOHN MASEFIELD
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
Submitted by the Poetry Appreciation Group
The Victoria Falls
So hushed, so hot, the broad Zambesi lies
Above the Falls, and on her weedy isles
Swing antic monkeys, swarm malignant flies
And seeming-lazy lurk long crocodiles.
But somewhere down the river does the hush
Become a sibilance that hints a sigh,
A murmur, mounting as the currents rush
Faster, and while the murmur is a cry
The cry becomes a shout, the shout a thunder
Until the whole Zambesi waters pour
Into the earth’s side, agitating under
Infinite spray mists, pounding the world’s floor.
Wrapped in this liquid turmoil who can say
Which is the mighty echo, which the spray?
Submitted by the Poetry Appreciation Group, their topic being ‘education’
The Correspondence School Instructor says Goodbye to his Students
Goodbye, lady in Bangor, who sent me
snapshots of yourself, after definitely hinting
you were beautiful; goodbye,
Miami Beach urologist, who enclosed plain
brown envelopes for the return of your very
Clinical Sonnet; goodbye, manufacturer
of brassieres on the Coast, whose eclogues
give the fullest treatment in literature yet
to the sagging-breast motif; goodbye, you in San Quentin,
who wrote, ‘Being German my hero is Hitler,’
instead of ‘Sincerely yours,’ at the end of long,
neat-scripted letter demolishing
I swear to you, it was just my way
of cheering myself up, as I licked
the stamped, self-addressed envelopes,
the game I had
of trying to guess which one of you, this time,
had poisoned his glue. I did care.
I did read each poem entire.
I did say what I thought was the truth
in the mildest words I know. And now,
in this poem, or chopped prose, not any better,
I realize, than those troubled lines
I kept sending back to you,
I have to say I am relieved it is over:
at the end I could feel only pity
for that urge toward more life
your poems kept smothering in words, the smell
of which, days later, would tingle
in your nostrils as new, God-given impulses
you who are, for me, the postmarks again
of shattered towns-Xenia, Burnt Cabins, Hornell-
given away in poems, only their solitude kept.
Submitted by the Poetry Appreciation Group
The smells of ordinariness
Were new on the night drive through France;
Rain and hay and woods on the air
Made warm draughts in the open car.
Signposts whitened relentlessly.
Montrueil, Abbéville, Beauvais
Were promised, promised, came and went,
Each place granting its name’s fulfilment.
A combine groaning its way late
Bled seeds across its work-light.
A forest fire smouldered out.
One by one small cafés shut.
I thought of you continuously
A thousand miles south where Italy
Laid its loin to France on the darkened sphere.
Your ordinariness was renewed there.
Seamus Heaney, from Door Into the Dark (Faber)
Submitted by Poetry Appreciation Group
Binsey Poplars – by Gerard Manley Hopkins
My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,
Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,
All felled, felled, are all felled;
Of a fresh and following folded rank
Not spared, not one
That dandled a sandalled
Shadow that swam or sank
On meadow & river & wind-wandering weed-winding bank.
O if we but knew what we do
When we delve or hew —
Hack and rack the growing green!
Since country is so tender
To touch, her being só slender,
That, like this sleek and seeing ball
But a prick will make no eye at all,
Where we, even where we mean
To mend her we end her,
When we hew or delve:
After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.
Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve
Strokes of havoc unselve
The sweet especial scene,
Rural scene, a rural scene,
Sweet especial rural scene.