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.