I’ve read my fair share of poetry and I’d love to have started all over again. Firstly, to relive that first read, that first personal discovery to a great piece of writing. Secondly, there’s hundreds of poets I’ve explored and I know, because I didn’t write them down, I’ve forgotten. However some other poems and poets I’ve not only not forgotten but their work has been ingrained in my mind, for various reasons. Their works often pop into my head and I wanted to share some that might do the same for you. There’s quite a variety:-
- Vultures by Chinua Achebe – it’s about love and how it exists universally, in good and bad people and animals. The imagery has stuck with me since I read it when I was much younger, and the Commandant is a person I’ll never forget.
- Slough by John Betjeman – a poem about the dull town of Slough (which is just outside London, for those who didn’t know.) It was featured in the The Office television series (UK) and the meter is brilliant. It’s perhaps the most powerful opening verse to a poem I’ve read and epitomises Betjeman’s feelings for the town.
- When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be – John Keats – a fear that I feel everyone has, deep inside, that we may never be able to finish what we started, or achieve what we hope to accomplish before our time is over. The opening image of the pen ‘glean[ing] [his] teeming brain’ has never left my head. Whenever I begin to write, I imagine this pen absorbing all my thoughts and ideas and spilling them out onto the paper (or keyboard/screen, etc.)
- Today – Frank O’Hara (below) – I only picked up this poem recently and it’s already made it’s resonating home in my head. It’s about how anything can be poetic and anything can be the focus of poetry. It’s reminded me not to make light of anything. Nothing is boring – it’s the way you portray it in writing. And that final line is brilliant – they’re strong as rocks!
Today (1950) Oh! kangaroos, sequins, chocolate sodas! You really are beautiful! Pearls, harmonicas, jujubes, aspirins! all the stuff they've always talked about still makes a poem a surprise! These things are with us every day even on beachheads and biers. They do have meaning. They're strong as rocks. I hope you enjoy these poems - they have had great influence my writing.