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Monday, March 17, 2008


When I read my children their stories at bed time there is that lull before the sandman eventually calls and hopefully cements their eyelids shut until the next morning. In that hinterland of time I take to reading my own stories and books, the latest one is (although Ive had it for about 10 years) Lifelines. Between 1985 and 1992, under the direction of Niall McMonagle, a teacher of English, a small group of fifth formers at Wesley College, Dublin, wrote to famous people asking them to name their favourite poem, giving the reasons why. Those who replied had their letter and chosen poem published in booklet form by the students and the proceeds were given to sick and dying children in Africa which is always a most noble and worthy cause.In their letters to the teenagers, 223 famous people, including Carol Ann Duffy, John Gielgud, Maeve Binchy, Richard Branson, Mother Teresa, Jeffrey Archer, Raymond Carver, Paul Durcan, Glenda Jackson, Cyril Cusack, give honest, intimate, humourous, profound, but always revealing insights into themselves as they describe the reasons for their choice. Old favourites are dusted down and refreshed for us through their eyes. Poems once toiled over in school are seen in a new light

Ive been on a diet of fiction and non fiction for a while and it was a wonderful reunion to see my favourites and discover some new ones.When I read poetry in school, especially Yeats something changed inside me that stayed changed forever. To read Yeats or indeed any poetry, we must observe, measure, and judge the people and the properties of that particular universe. The interpratation of any poem is highly personal and is when the imagination, feeling, language and inspiration intersect in the mind, soul and heart of a talent. Sometimes we look to it for self definition, discovery, answers, consolation,humour, education, the list is endless as is their many worlds.
At the moment my favourite poem is No second troy by Yeats( on my playlist there is a song loosly based on this by sinead O connor ) A forgiving yet mournful tale of unrequited love Of Yeata and his muse Maude Gonne.

WHY should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery, or that she would of late
Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
Or hurled the little streets upon the great.
Had they but courage equal to desire?
What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire,
With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern?
Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?

If youre kind enough to leave a comment please include your own favourite poem and why.


Say It said...

I think the cow said it all. I find I either get it or I don't when it comes to poetry. So, I don't have as full an appreciation as I probably should.

Flyinfox_SATX said...

Sadly, Poetry was never my thing. I could appreciate poetry in all forms however. Everything from a good Haiku to song lyrics, to Shakespears Sonnets. I just don't have the talent to compose my own.

The one you have posted by Larson is one of my favorites though.....


Glamourpuss said...

That Yeats poem is lovely. Not sure I have an overall favourite, there's lots I like, from Goldsmith, to Shakespeare, to Duffy.


General Catz said...

I wish i could, but i'm not into poetry either. I just don't have the patience for it. Odd for a writer, eh?

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Nick McGivney said...

Lifelines did one thing to me: woke up the gene that I didn't know they planted in me during secondary school. And somewhere in there Dinny from Glenroe proffered this:
It is a universal truth unshakeable
That the second child is nowhere near as breakable.

He didn't know where it came from but it was all the poetry that ever made sense to him. When I got No. 2 I suddenly realised what was meant.

Sesame said...

"The Stolen Child" by W.B.Yeats, is my personal favourite

Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed -
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest
For he comes the human child
To the waters and the wild
With a fairy, hand in hand
For this world's more full of weeping than he can understand

The poem was set to music and a class version was recorded by The Waterboys, on their Fisherman's Blues album.