Your favourite poem?

(334 Posts)
lifechanger Wed 19-Oct-11 19:09:37

Ok, I know National Poetry Day was a few weeks ago, but how about sharing your favourite poems, happy, sad, melacholic or joyful?

This is mine:

Afternoons, by Philip Larkin

Summer is fading:
The leaves fall in ones and twos
From trees bordering
The new recreation ground.
In the hollows of afternoons
Young mothers assemble
At swing and sandpit
Setting free their children.

Behind them, at intervals,
Stand husbands in skilled trades,
An estateful of washing,
And the albums, lettered
Our Wedding, lying
Near the television:
Before them, the wind
Is ruining their courting-places

That are still courting-places
(But the lovers are all in school),
And their children, so intent on
Finding more unripe acrons,
Expect to be taken home.
Their beauty has thickened.
Something is pushing them
To the side of their own lives.

lifechanger Wed 19-Oct-11 19:10:41

That was the poem which inspired me to go and do my degree when my children were little.

shoutyman Wed 19-Oct-11 19:15:37

A Roger McGough one:

To amuse emus
on warm summer nights,
Kiwis do weewees
from spectacular heights.


Yourefired Wed 19-Oct-11 19:22:41

Dorothy Parker

The sun's gone dim, the moon's turned black; for I loved him, and he didn't love back.

Oh the pain of first love when only Dorothy understood.

SinicalSal Wed 19-Oct-11 19:24:02

oooo marking place will contribute later when I think of one and dc in bed

I like An Arundel Tomb by Philip Larkin.

Side by sideSide by side To see a recent photograph of this tomb of the Earl and Countess of Arundel that Larkin is describing, click here. , their faces blurred,
The earl and countess lie in stone,
Their proper habitshabits Clothes vaguely shown
As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,
And that faint hint of the absurd—
The little dogs under their feet.

Such plainness of the pre-baroque pre-baroque In Larkin’s pronunciation, the phrase rhymes with 'shock.' The Baroque period, exemplified by ornamentation, followed the Renaissance. This tomb was sculpted in the Middle Ages.
Hardly involves the eye, until
It meets his left-hand gauntletgauntlet An armored glove, worn in the Middle Ages, still
Clasped empty in the other; and
One sees, with a sharp tender shock,
His hand withdrawn, holding her hand.

They would not think to lie so long.
Such faithfulness in effigyeffigy A sculptured likeness
Was just a detail friends would see:
A sculptor’s sweet commissioned grace
Thrown off in helping to prolong
The Latin names around the base.

They would not guess how early in
Their supinesupine On their backs stationary voyage
The air would change to soundless damage,
Turn the old tenantry away;
How soon succeeding eyes begin
To look, not read. Rigidly they

Persisted, linked, through lengths and breadths
Of time. Snow fell, undated. Light
Each summer thronged the glass. A bright
Litter of birdcalls strewed the same
Bone-riddled ground. And up the paths
The endless altered people came,

Washing at their identity.
Now, helpless in the hollow of
An unarmorial age, a trough
Of smoke in slow suspended skeinsskeins Used figuratively, a skein is a quantity of thread
Above their scrap of history,
Only anOnly an When first published in June 1956 in the London Magazine, the line began: Only their attitude remains:

Time has transfigured them into
Untruth. The stone fidelity
They hardly meant has come to be
Their final blazonblazon Both a coat of arms, and a public proclamation, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.

This Be The Verse by Philip Larkin

They fuck you up, your mum and dad
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you full of faults they had,
And add some extra, just for you.

And in the interests of balance, You're by Sylvia Plath.

PamBeesly Wed 19-Oct-11 19:31:13

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Even better if you can watch her reciting it herself here

eeek what happened there?


Side by sideSide by side , their faces blurred,
The earl and countess lie in stone,
Their proper habitshabits Clothes vaguely shown
As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,
And that faint hint of the absurd—
The little dogs under their feet.

Such plainness of the pre-baroque
Hardly involves the eye, until
It meets his left-hand gauntlet still
Clasped empty in the other; and
One sees, with a sharp tender shock,
His hand withdrawn, holding her hand.

They would not think to lie so long.
Such faithfulness in effigyeffigy A sculptured likeness
Was just a detail friends would see:
A sculptor’s sweet commissioned grace
Thrown off in helping to prolong
The Latin names around the base.

They would not guess how early in
Their supinesupine On their backs stationary voyage
The air would change to soundless damage,
Turn the old tenantry away;
How soon succeeding eyes begin
To look, not read. Rigidly they

Persisted, linked, through lengths and breadths
Of time. Snow fell, undated. Light
Each summer thronged the glass. A bright
Litter of birdcalls strewed the same
Bone-riddled ground. And up the paths
The endless altered people came,

Washing at their identity.
Now, helpless in the hollow of
An unarmorial age, a trough
Of smoke in slow suspended skeins
Above their scrap of history,
Only their attitude remains:

Time has transfigured them into
Untruth. The stone fidelity
They hardly meant has come to be
Their final blazon, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.

I give up. blush but you get the idea!#

countessbabycham Wed 19-Oct-11 19:38:17

It's that one about when I am an old woman I shall wear purple and red...anyone help me out?

GoodAndBluts Wed 19-Oct-11 19:41:54

Ode to a goldfish:

Oh wet pet.

I love it,very simple and straight to the point.

My most favourite poem is by a friend, who has not had it published so cannot put it on here, but it is very strong and was during a time in her life that she was greatly depressed. Her poems are amazing.

PamBeesly Wed 19-Oct-11 19:43:10

countess is this the one? by Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple

with a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

and satin candles, and say we've no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired

and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells

and run my stick along the public railings

and make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain

and pick the flowers in other people's gardens

and learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat

and eat three pounds of sausages at a go

or only bread and pickles for a week

and hoard pens and pencils and beer nuts and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry

and pay our rent and not swear in the street

and set a good example for the children.

We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?

So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised

When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Cheeptrickortreat Wed 19-Oct-11 19:43:52


Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

by W Shakespear

Like Ogden Nash and Spike Milligan's silly verse... always brings a smile to my face..

countessbabycham Wed 19-Oct-11 19:48:25

There's also another beautiful one that ends

"Tread softly for you tread on my dreams"

(I'm no good with remembering the names)

And does "First they came for the Jews" by Peter Niemoller count as a poem?

LittleWhiteWereWolf Wed 19-Oct-11 19:49:31

Jabberwocky. I loves it.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

countessbabycham Wed 19-Oct-11 19:49:32

Pam thank you!!That's it - I love it!!

SandStorm Wed 19-Oct-11 19:50:29


by: Walter de la Mare (b. 1873)

Is there anybody there?' said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champ'd the grasses
Of the forest's ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller's head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
'Is there anybody there?' he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Lean'd over and look'd into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplex'd and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirr'd and shaken
By the lonely Traveller's call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
'Neath the starr'd and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:--
'Tell them I came, and no one answer'd,
That I kept my word,' he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.

LittleWhiteWereWolf Wed 19-Oct-11 19:50:30

And, to be more serious, Ode To Autumn, by Keats is a favourite, too. Autumn is my favourite season, and Keats does it complete justice in his verses.

PamBeesly Wed 19-Oct-11 19:50:42

Thats Yeats countess I had it at my wedding and it is magnificent 'He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven'

countessbabycham Wed 19-Oct-11 19:54:28

First they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out-
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for the communists
And I did not speak out-
Because I was not a communist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out-
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for me-
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.

We have that on our wall.

countessbabycham Wed 19-Oct-11 19:56:05

That's it Pam.What a beautiful choice!

lifechanger Wed 19-Oct-11 19:59:13

Some great poems here!

My favourite funny poem, by John Hegley, is this:


I said Pat
you are fat
and you are cataclysmically desirable
and to think I used to think
that slim was where it's at
well not any more Pat
you've changed that
and love yourself
and flatter yourself
and shatter their narrow image of the erotic
and Pat said
what do you mean FAT?

WeepsInPaleDew Wed 19-Oct-11 20:00:24

He bids his Beloved be at Peace

I hear the Shadowy Horses, their long manes a-shake,
Their hooves heavy with tumult, their eyes glimmering white;
The North unfolds above them clinging, creeping night,
The East her hidden joy before the morning break,
The West weeps in pale dew and sighs passing away,
The South is pouring down roses of crimson fire:
O vanity of Sleep, Hope, Dream, endless Desire,
The Horses of Disaster plunge in the heavy clay:
Beloved, let your eyes half close, and your heart beat
Over my heart, and your hair fall over my breast,
Drowning love's lonely hour in deep twilight of rest,
And hiding their tossing manes and their tumultuous feet.

W. B. Yeats

JamieComeHome Wed 19-Oct-11 20:01:03

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

Also, The Wreck of the Deutschland, by Gerard Manley Hopkins. It's too long to re-produce here. I studied him at A level and he's stuck with me

JodieHarsh Wed 19-Oct-11 20:01:21

I must go down to the sea again
To the lonely sea and the sky
I left my vest and pants there:
I wonder if they're dry?


minxthemanx Wed 19-Oct-11 20:04:06

Timothy Winters by Charles Causley. Can't remember it all but love it, about a poverty stricken kid with "eyes like saucers and teeth like splinters, a blitz of a boy was Timothy Winters."

Great poem.

PootlingAndDoodling Wed 19-Oct-11 20:04:11

The Power of the Dog

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie--
Perfect passsion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart to a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find--it's your own affair--
But ... you've given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone--wherever it goes--for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We've sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we've kept 'em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-term loan is as bad as a long--
So why in--Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Rudyard Kipling

RIZZ0 Wed 19-Oct-11 20:04:50

Oh lots of gooduns here.

Mine is by Father and Child by W.B.Yeats.

She hears me strike the board and say
That she is under ban
Of all good men and women,
Being mentioned with a man
That has the worst of all bad names;
And thereupon replies
That his hair is beautiful,
Cold as the March wind his eyes.

PootlingAndDoodling Wed 19-Oct-11 20:05:00

Mrs Malone By Eleanor Farjeon

Mrs. Malone
Lived hard by a wood
All on her lonesome
As nobody should. With her crust on a plate
And her pot on the coal
And none but herself
To converse with, poor soul.
In a shawl and a hood She got sticks out-o’-door,
On a bit of old sacking
She slept on the floor,
And nobody, nobody
Asked how she fared Or knew how she managed,
For nobody cared.
Why make a pother
About an old crone?
What for should they bother
With Mrs. Malone?

One Monday in winter
With snow on the ground
So thick that a footstep
Fell without sound,
She heard a faint frostbitten
Peck on the pane
And went to the window
To listen again.
There sat a **-sparrow
Bedraggled and weak,
With half-open eyelid
And ice on his beak.
She threw up the sash
And she took the bird in,
And numbled and fumbled it
Under her chin.
'Ye’re all of a smother,
Ye’re fair overblown!
I’ve room fer another,'
Said Mrs. Malone.

Come Tuesday while eating
Her dry morning slice
With the sparrow a-picking
('Ain’t company nice!')
She heard on her doorpost
A curious scratch,
And there was a cat
With its claw on the latch.
It was hungry and thirsty
And thin as a lath,
It mewed and it mowed
On the slithery path.
She threw the door open
And warmed up some pap,
And huddled and cuddled it
In her old lap.
'There, there, little brother,
Ye poor skin-an’-bone,
There’s room fer another,'
Said Mrs. Malone.

Come Wednesday while all of them
Crouched on the mat
With a crumb for the sparrow,
A sip for the cat,
There was wailing and whining
Outside in the wood,
And there sat a vixen
With six of her brood.
She was haggard and ragged
And worn to shred,
And her half-dozen babies
Were only half-fed,
But Mrs. Malone, crying
'My! ain’t they sweet!'
Happed them and lapped them
And gave them to eat.
'You warm yerself, mother,
Ye’re cold as a stone!
There’s room fer another,'
Said Mrs. Malone.

Come Thursday a donkey
Stepped in off the road
With sores on his withers
From bearing a load.
Come Friday when icicles
Pierced the white air
Down from the mountainside
Lumbered a bear.
For each she had something,
If little, to give—
'Lord knows, the poor critters
Must all of ’em live.'
She gave them her sacking,
Her hood and her shawl,
Her loaf and her teapot—
She gave them her all.
'What with one thing and t’other
Me fambily’s grown,
And there’s room fer another,'
Said Mrs. Malone.

Come Saturday evening
When time was to sup
Mrs. Malone
Had forgot to sit up.
The cat said meeow,
And the sparrow said peep,
The vixen, she’s sleeping,
The bear, let her sleep.
On the back of the donkey
They bore her away,
Through trees and up mountains
Beyond night and day,
Till come Sunday morning
They brought her in state
Through the last cloudbank
As far as the Gate.
'Who is it,' asked Peter,
'You have with you there?'
And donkey and sparrow,
Cat, vixen and bear

Exclaimed, 'Do you tell us
Up here she’s unknown?
It’s our mother, God bless us!
It’s Mrs. Malone
Whose havings were few
And whose holding was small
And whose heart was so big
It had room for us all.'
Then Mrs. Malone
Of a sudden awoke,
She rubbed her two eyeballs
And anxiously spoke:
'Where am I, to goodness,
And what do I see?
My dears, let’s turn back,
This ain’t no place fer me!'
But Peter said, 'Mother
Go in to the Throne.
There’s room for another
One, Mrs. Malone.'

I like Mending Fences by Robert Frost too.

PootlingAndDoodling Wed 19-Oct-11 20:06:04

lol at the word omission - it is cock hmm

Both of mine are sentimental but not sickly i think...

countessbabycham Wed 19-Oct-11 20:06:39

lifechanger I hope you don't mind if I leap in and take a liberty here - my late Dad used to read me a poem when I was a little girl that I loved and have never been able to find.
It contains a line about (i think)" baccy for the Parson and(something) for the spy,so watch the wall my darling while the gentlemen ride by."
It'd mean a lot if any of you know what/who it is.
Again sorry for the hijack lifechanger

WeepsInPaleDew Wed 19-Oct-11 20:10:09

Is it Kipling? A Smuggler's Song?

<not sure though>

Zorayda Wed 19-Oct-11 20:12:33

WeepsInPaleDew is right - it's Kipling's:

Five and twenty ponies trotting through the dark,
Brandy for the parson and bacchy for the clerk,
Laces for the ladies and letters for the spie,
Now watch the wall my darling while the gentlemen go by.

If you wake at midnight to the sound of horses' feet,
Don't go drawin' back the blinds nor lookin' in the street.
Them that asks no questions, isn't told a lie.
Now watch the wall my darling while the gentlemen go by.

Runnin' through the woodlands you might chance to find
Little barrels roped and tied all full of brandywine,
Well don't you shout to come and look nor use 'em for your play,
Just push the brushwood back again and they'll be gone next day.

If you see a stable door settin' open wide,
And if you see a tired horse a lying down inside ,
And if your mother mends a coat that's cut about and torn,
And if the linin's wet and warm well don't you ask no more.

Five and twenty ponies trotting through the dark,
Brandy for the parson and bacchy for the clerk,
Laces for the ladies and letters for the spy,
Now watch the wall my darling while the gentlemen go by.

Knocks and footsteps 'round the house, whistles after dark,
You've no call for runnin' out until the house dogs bark,
For Trusty's here and Finch is here and see how dumb they lie,
They don't fret to follow when the gentlemen go by.

If you see the king's men dressed in blue and red,
Well you be careful what you say and mindful what is said,
And if they call you pretty maid and chuck you 'neath your chin,
Well don't you tell where no one is, nor yet where no one's been.

Five and twenty ponies trotting through the dark,
Brandy for the parson and bacchy for the clerk,
Laces for the ladies and letters for the spie,
Now watch the wall my darling while the gentlemen go by.

If you do as you've been told, likely there's a chance
That you'll be give a dainty doll that's all the way from France,
With a cap of Alyintsin's and a velvet hood,
A present from the gentlemen along with being good.

Five and twenty ponies trotting through the dark,
Brandy for the parson and bacchy for the clerk,
Them that asks no questions isn't told a lie,
And watch the wall my darling while the gentlemen go by.

Zorayda Wed 19-Oct-11 20:12:56

Sorry - that's rather long!

lifechanger Wed 19-Oct-11 20:14:18

I love a good poem reunion - well done that woman!

countessbabycham Wed 19-Oct-11 20:14:37

WeepsinPaleDew andZorayda thank you so much! That is the one.I'm in floods now....

lifechanger Wed 19-Oct-11 20:15:21

'Timothy Winters'
Timothy Winters comes to school
With eyes as wide as a football-pool,
Ears like bombs and teeth like splinters:
A blitz of a boy is Timothy Winters.

His belly is white, his neck is dark,
And his hair is an exclamation-mark.
His clothes are enough to scare a crow
And through his britches the blue winds blow.

When teacher talks he won't hear a word
And he shoots down dead the arithmetic-bird,
He licks the pattern off his plate
And he's not even heard of the Welfare State.

Timothy Winters has bloody feet
And he lives in a house on Suez Street,
He sleeps in a sack on the kithen floor
And they say there aren't boys like him anymore.

Old Man Winters likes his beer
And his missus ran off with a bombardier,
Grandma sits in the grate with a gin
And Timothy's dosed with an aspirin.

The welfare Worker lies awake
But the law's as tricky as a ten-foot snake,
So Timothy Winters drinks his cup
And slowly goes on growing up.

At Morning Prayers the Master helves
for children less fortunate than ourselves,
And the loudest response in the room is when
Timothy Winters roars "Amen!"

So come one angel, come on ten
Timothy Winters says "Amen
Amen amen amen amen."
Timothy Winters, Lord. Amen

Charles Causley

I use this poem to teach metaphors to 11 yr olds - another Charles Causley fan.

maxybrown Wed 19-Oct-11 20:17:05

ok a soppy one but here goes


Love is the most contemplated, articulated desired and treasured gift the world can offer.

It cannot be captured in an ocean of words
It cannot be painted with the most beautiful of colours
It cannot be comprehended by the most brilliant minds
Or bought by the wealthiest person

Its value is more precious than gold or diamonds
It spans the breadth of time
And cannot be diminished by the farthest distance
Its width, depth and height are limitless
Its strength is unquenchable
Its tenderness is indescribable
Its beauty is irresistible
It adores and cherishes, it believes and encourages
It listens and cares, it forgives and forgets

Passion is a twinkling star
That you want to reach out, catch and hold onto
It’s exciting as you catch a little each time
Then it slips from your grasp once again
Love is when you catch it
When you no longer have to reach out
But it is given into your hands
It’s the most precious gift in the world
And when it is truly given and delicately cared for
It gives itself completely and lights itself on your heart

muddyvampsters123 Wed 19-Oct-11 20:17:53


IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

LottieJenkins Wed 19-Oct-11 20:18:08

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening ( Robert Frost. )

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.


If I should go before the rest of you
Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone
Nor when I'm gone speak in a Sunday voice
But be the usual selves that I have known
Weep if you must
Parting is hell
But life goes on
So sing as well.

Joyce Grenfell

lifechanger Wed 19-Oct-11 20:19:05

I love this poem - the 19 year-old poet died 3 months after he wrote it. I especially love the last line which makes my arm hairs stand on end (and I'm not even religious).

High Flight
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941

WeepsInPaleDew Wed 19-Oct-11 20:20:02

Smile through your tears, pet.

<hugs countess and hands over a brew>

Jux Wed 19-Oct-11 20:20:38

Pretty well anything by Shelley, but I also love Auden.

lifechanger Wed 19-Oct-11 20:21:01

I love the repetition in the last two lines of Robest Frost's poem, Lottie

Aloha31 Wed 19-Oct-11 20:22:16

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

countessbabycham Wed 19-Oct-11 20:22:39

<drinks brew and cheers up>

Thanks Weeps - good tears!

muddyvampsters123 Wed 19-Oct-11 20:24:28

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner - Samuel Taulor Coleridge

IF - Rudyard Kipling

Iamnotminterested Wed 19-Oct-11 20:25:02

JamieComeHome Dylan Thomas? surely Wilfrid Owen.

Mine is;

The boy stood on the burning deck,
his lips were all a-quiver;
He gave a cough,
his leg fell off,
and floated down the river.


Iamnotminterested Wed 19-Oct-11 20:26:23

Has anyone mentioned Philip larkin? Not read the whole post.

muddyvampsters123 Wed 19-Oct-11 20:27:15

Sorry, should be Taylor.

Today i saw a little worm wiggling on his belly
perhaps he'd like to come inside and see what's on the telly. grin

verysmellyeli Wed 19-Oct-11 20:28:00

I do like that Spike Milligan one, Jodie! And the Dylan Thomas, too. And Roger McGough is always good. And I do remember in my youth that ee cummings resonated with some of his more visceral offerings......

But my fave is by Elizabeth Jennings (although Wendy Cope's 'Postcards' came in a close second, because of a German who sent me lots of them) I apologise if there are mistakes - I can't find the book and am copying it from a letter sent to me by a friend 20 years ago when I was going through what I thought then were tough times.

Over and over they suffer, the gentle creatures,
The frightened deer, the mice in the corn to be gathered,
Over and over we cry, alone or together.
And we weep for a lot we scacely understand.

Wondering whey we are here and what we mean
And why there are huge stars and volcanic eruptions
Earthquakes, desperate disasters of many kinds.
What is the answer? Is there

One? There are many. Most of us forget
The times when the going sun was a blaze of gold
And the blue hung behind it and we were the whole of awe.
We forget the moments of love and cast out time
And the children who come to us trusting the answers we give
To their difficult and important questions. And there

Are shooting stars and rainbows and broad blue seas.
Surely when we gather the good about us
The dark is cancelled out. Mysteries must
Be our way of life. Without them we might
Stop trying to learn and hoping to succeed
In the work we half-choose and giving the love we need.

LottieJenkins Wed 19-Oct-11 20:28:40

Iamnotminterested Thats def by Dylan Thomas and not Wilfred Owen.......... I ama bitofa WO officianado.........Hence by son being a Wilf!!

beatenbyayellowskull Wed 19-Oct-11 20:31:25

by Christina Rosetti

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad

Iamnotminterested Wed 19-Oct-11 20:31:45

W.H.Auden "Stop all the clocks".

beatenbyayellowskull Wed 19-Oct-11 20:32:19


Roses are red
Violets are blue
Most poems rhyme
But this one doesn't.

verysmellyeli Wed 19-Oct-11 20:33:47

* Lottie* I love that Joyce Grenfell too. Such a contrast to her George Don't Do That stuff (we had it on vinyl when I was growing up)

screamqueenrollo Wed 19-Oct-11 20:35:15

countessbabaycham It is Tread Softly by W B Yeats, and is one of my favourite poems.

HAD I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet,
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

My favourtie poem is Apples by Laurie Lee. I can remember everything about the moment I first read this. I will forever thank the English teacher who put this in front of a 15 year old me, and helped me to understand the beauty of poetry.

Behold the apples’ rounded worlds:
juice-green of July rain,
the black polestar of flowers, the rind
mapped with its crimson stain.

The russet, crab and cottage red
burn to the sun’s hot brass,
then drop like sweat from every branch
and bubble in the grass.

They lie as wanton as they fall,
and where they fall and break,
the stallion clamps his crunching jaws,
the starling stabs his beak.

In each plump gourd the cidery bite
of boys’ teeth tears the skin;
the waltzing wasp consumes his share,
the bent worm enters in.

I, with as easy hunger, take
entire my season’s dole;
welcome the ripe, the sweet, the sour,
the hollow and the whole.

PootlingAndDoodling Wed 19-Oct-11 20:35:31


There are holes in the sky
Where the rain gets in,
But they're ever so small
That's why rain is thin.

Spike (of course)

Pootling and lifechanger you have both made me cry with "Power of a Dog" and High Flight sad but also beautiful.

Iamnotminterested Wed 19-Oct-11 20:37:16

LottieJenkins apologies. Studied WO and DT for lit A-level, I'm putting my confusion down to vats of Clan Dew when I should have been revising grin.

Still passed though...

screamqueenrollo Wed 19-Oct-11 20:38:10

This thread is wonderful. DH and I are sat here reading poems to each other. What a lovely way to spend an evening. I always feel poetry somehow has more power when you read it aloud.

lizzieloubee1 Wed 19-Oct-11 20:39:48

W.H. Auden - Stop all the clocks.

It almost physically hurts when people reading poetry get the metre wrong...

TheLittleFriend Wed 19-Oct-11 20:41:23

I love this one by Oscar Wilde

Roses and Rue

Could we dig up this long-buried treasure,
Were it worth the pleasure,
We never could learn love's song,
We are parted too long.

Could the passionate past that is fled
Call back its dead,
Could we live it all over again,
Were it worth the pain!

I remember we used to meet
By an ivied seat,
And you warbled each pretty word
With the air of a bird;

And your voice had a quaver in it,
Just like a linnet,
And shook, as the blackbird's throat
With its last big note;

And your eyes, they were green and grey
Like an April day,
But lit into amethyst
When I stooped and kissed;

And your mouth, it would never smile
For a long, long while,
Then it rippled all over with laughter
Five minutes after.

You were always afraid of a shower,
Just like a flower:
I remember you started and ran
When the rain began.

I remember I never could catch you,
For no one could match you,
You had wonderful, luminous, fleet,
Little wings to your feet.

I remember your hair - did I tie it?
For it always ran riot -
Like a tangled sunbeam of gold:
These things are old.

I remember so well the room,
And the lilac bloom
That beat at the dripping pane
In the warm June rain;

And the colour of your gown,
It was amber-brown,
And two yellow satin bows
From your shoulders rose.

And the handkerchief of French lace
Which you held to your face -
Had a small tear left a stain?
Or was it the rain?

On your hand as it waved adieu
There were veins of blue;
In your voice as it said good-bye
Was a petulant cry,

'You have only wasted your life.'
(Ah, that was the knife!)
When I rushed through the garden gate
It was all too late.

Could we live it over again,
Were it worth the pain,
Could the passionate past that is fled
Call back its dead!

Well, if my heart must break,
Dear love, for your sake,
It will break in music, I know,
Poets' hearts break so.

But strange that I was not told
That the brain can hold
In a tiny ivory cell
God's heaven and hell.

Yama Wed 19-Oct-11 20:42:03


heh jimmy
yawright ih
stull wayiz urryi

heh jimmy
ma right insane yirra pape
ma right insane yirwanny us jimmy
see it nyir eyes
wanny uz


heh jimmy
lookslik wirgonny miss thi gemm
gonny miss thi GEMM jimmy
nearly three a cloke thinoo

dork init
good jobe theyve gote the lights

RoxyRobin Wed 19-Oct-11 20:43:59

Matthew Arnold's 'Dover Beach' - though it always makes me depressed!

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits;--on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.


WeepsInPaleDew Wed 19-Oct-11 20:45:38

Another favourite, again by Yeats.

Her Anxiety

Earth in beauty dressed
Awaits returning spring.
All true love must die,
Alter at the best
Into some lesser thing.
Prove that I lie.

Such body lovers have,
Such exacting breath,
That they touch or sigh.
Every touch they give,
Love is nearer death.
Prove that I lie.

FrightNight Wed 19-Oct-11 20:47:00

Dolly on the dustcart by Pam Ayres read to me by my infant school teacher.

SandStorm Wed 19-Oct-11 20:49:33

I also read this at school and the first few lines have stuck with me forever. Very haunting poem.

Ghosts, fire, water

On the Hiroshima panels by Iri Maruki and Toshiko Akamatsu

These are the ghosts of the unwilling dead,
Grey ghosts of that imprinted flash of memory
Whose flaming and eternal instant haunts
The speechless dark with dread and anger.

Grey, out of pale nothingness their agony appears.
Like ash they are blown and blasted on the wind's
Vermilion breathlessness, like shapeless smoke
Their shapes are torn across the paper sky.

These scarred and ashen ghosts are quick
With pain's unutterable speech, their flame-cracked flesh
Writhes and is heavy as the worms, the bitter dirt;
Lonely as in death they bleed, naked as in birth.

They greet each other in a ghastly paradise,
These ghosts who cannot come with gifts and flowers.
Here they receive each other with disaster's common love,
Covering one another's pain with shrivelled hands.

They are not beautiful, yet beauty is in their truth.
There is no easy music in their silent screams,
No ordered dancing in their grief's distracted limbs.
Their shame is ours. We, too, are haunted by their fate.

In the shock of flame, their tears brand our flesh,
We twist in their furnace, and our scorching throats
Parch for the waters where the cool dead float.
We press our lips upon the river where they drink, and drown.

Their voices call to us, in pain and indignation:
'This is what you have done to us!'
Their accusation is our final hope. Be comforted.
Yes, we have heard you, ghosts of our indifference,

We hear your cry, we understand your warnings.
We, too, shall refuse to accept our fate!
Haunt us with the truth of our betrayal
Until the earth's united voices shout refusal, sing your peace!

Forgive us, that we had to see your passion to remember
What we must never again deny: Love one another.

by James Kirkup

lillybloom Wed 19-Oct-11 20:50:04

I work as a teacher. This poem has always been on my classroom wall where ever I work. It was written by a student who later commited suicide. It reminds me everyday of how important my job is. All my children are special- like I was

He drew... the things inside that needed saying. Beautiful pictures he kept under his pillow.
When he started school he brought them...
To have along like a friend.
It was funny about school, he sat at a square brown desk Like all the other square brown desks... and his room Was a square brown room like all the other rooms, tight And close and stiff.

He hated to hold the pencil and chalk, his arms stiff
His feet flat on the floor, stiff, the teacher watching
And watching. She told him to wear a tie like
All the other boys, he said he didn't like them.
She said it didn't matter what he liked. After that the class drew.
He drew all yellow. It was the way he felt about Morning. The Teacher came and smiled, "What's this?
Why don't you draw something like Ken's drawing?"
After that his mother bought him a tie, and he always Drew airplanes and rocketships like everyone else.
He was square inside and brown and his hands were stiff. The things inside that needed saying didn't need it
Anymore, they had stopped pushing... crushed, stiff
Like everything else.

MogTheForgetfulCat Wed 19-Oct-11 20:52:01

These 2 are among my faves - so hard to choose, though!

Carol Ann Duffy, 'Hour'

Love’s time’s beggar, but even a single hour,
bright as a dropped coin, makes love rich.
We find an hour together, spend it not on flowers
or wine, but the whole of the summer sky and a grass ditch.

For thousands of seconds we kiss; your hair
like treasure on the ground; the Midas light
turning your limbs to gold. Time slows, for here
we are millonaires, backhanding the night

so nothing dark will end our shining hour,
no jewel hold a candle to the cuckoo spit
hung from the blade of grass at your ear,
no chandelier or spotlight see you better lit

than here. Now. Time hates love, wants love poor,
but love spins gold, gold, gold from straw.

George Herbert, 'Love (3)'

Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd anything.

"A guest," I answer'd, "worthy to be here";
Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee."
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
"Who made the eyes but I?"

"Truth, Lord, but I have marr'd them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
"My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
So I did sit and eat.

Also love 'High Flight' mentioned above, and Robert Frost's 'Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening'.

As a child it was R. L. Stevenson, 'From A Railway Carriage':

Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.
Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And here is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart runaway in the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill, and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone forever!

Oops, long sorry blush

lilly that is a beautiful poem. sad

WeepsInPaleDew Wed 19-Oct-11 20:55:09


Tears flowing freely. Such talent. Thank you for sharing it.

countessbabycham Wed 19-Oct-11 20:55:53

scream yes Tread Softly.Tis beautiful.

Lottie that Stopping by Woods is SO atmospheric.

Wonder if our kids will love poetry?

A vote for Dulce et Decorum est by Wilfred Owen ."It is a fine and fitting thing to die for one's country"

dawntigga Wed 19-Oct-11 20:56:59

Taylor Mali - don't read it if you don't want to cry - Tony Steinberg: Brave Seventh Grade Viking Warrior
Have you ever seen a Viking ship made out of popsicle sticks
And balsa wood? With tiny coils of brown thread for ropes,
Sixteen oars made out of chopsticks, and a red and yellow sail
made from a baby's footie pajamas?

I have.

He died with his sword in his hand and so went straight to heaven.

The Vikings sometimes buried their bravest warriors in ships.
Or set them adrift and on fire, a floating island of flames.
The soul of the brave warrior rising slowly with the smoke.
To understand life in Scandinavia in the Middle Ages,
You must understand the Viking ship.

So here is the assignment:
The class must build me a miniature Viking ship.
You have a month. And you must all work together.
Like warriors.

These projects are what I'm known for as a teacher.
Like the Egyptian Pyramid Project.
Have you ever seen a family of four standing around a card table after dinner,
each one holding one triangular side of a miniature pyramid until the glue dried?
I haven't either, but Mrs. Steinberg said it took 90 minutes,
and even with the little brother on one side saying,
This is dumb! This is a stupid pyramid, Tony!
You're going to fail this project.
If I get Mr. Mali next year, my pyramid is going to be much better than this!
And Tony on the other side saying,
Shut up! Shut up! You little %#@!
No, no, no, no, no, no, no! Keep holding your side
or I swear I'll kill you after the glue dries!
It was the best family time they'd spent together since Christmas.

He died with his sword in his hand and so went straight to heaven,
which the Vikings called Valhalla.

Mr. Mali, if that's true, that you would go straight to Valhalla
if you died with your sword in your hand,
then if you were an old Viking
and you were about to die of old age,
could you keep your sword right by your bed
so if you felt like you were going to die
you could reach out and grab it?

I don't know if their gods would fall for that,
but it sounds like a good idea to me.

Tony was out for a month before we heard what was wrong.
And the 12 boys left whispered the name of the disease
as if you could catch it from saying it too loud.

We'd been warned. The Middle School Head had come to class
And said Tony was coming to school on Friday.
But he's had a rough time.
The medication he's taking has made all his hair fall out,
and he's a little shy about it.
So don't stare, don't point, don't laugh.

I always said I liked teaching in a private school
Because I could talk about God
And not be breaking the law.
And for an Episcopalian kid who only went to church
On Christmas and Easter, I sure talked about God a lot.
In history of course, that's easy,
Even the Egyptian Pyramid Project is essentially a spiritual exercise.
But how can you study geometry and not believe in a God?

A God of perfect points and planes,
Surrounded by angels and angles of all different degrees.
Such a God wouldn't give cancer to a seventh grade boy.
Wouldn't make his hair fall out from the chemo.
Totally bald in a jacket and tie on Friday morning.
And I don't mean Tony. Not one single boy in my class had hair;
the other 12 had shaved their heads in solidarity.
Have you ever seen 13 bald-headed seventh grade boys,
all pointing at each other, all staring, all laughing?

I have.

It's a beautiful sight. And almost as striking as 12 boys
six weeks later, now with crew cuts on a Saturday morning,
outside the synagogue with heads bowed,
holding hands and standing in a circle
around the smoldering remains
of a miniature Viking ship,
the soul of the brave warrior
rising slowly with the smoke.


MogTheForgetfulCat Wed 19-Oct-11 20:57:48

V beautiful, lilly - so sad.

Another one I have always liked is Louis MacNeice, 'The Sunlight on the Garden'

The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold,
We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold,
When all is told
We cannot beg for pardon.

Our freedom as free lances
Advances towards its end;
The earth compels, upon it
Sonnets and birds descend;
And soon, my friend,
We shall have no time for dances.

The sky was good for flying
Defying the church bells
And every evil iron
Siren and what it tells:
The earth compels,
We are dying, Egypt, dying

And not expecting pardon,
Hardened in heart anew,
But glad to have sat under
Thunder and rain with you,
And grateful too
For sunlight on the garden.

countessbabycham Wed 19-Oct-11 20:59:48

Lilly that's beautiful!

I have no actual examples but I remember some pretty bloody good poetry by Benjamin Zephaniah back in the 80's...

PamBeesly Wed 19-Oct-11 21:00:39

lilly thats beautiful I hope the student r.i.p

applestrudel Wed 19-Oct-11 21:02:05

Prayer for the Man Who Mugged My Father, 72
by Charles Harper Webb

May there be an afterlife.

May you meet him there, the same age as you.
May the meeting take place in a small, locked room.

May the bushes where you hid be there again, leaves tipped with razor-
blades and acid.
May the rifle butt you bashed him with be in his hands.
May the glass in his car window, which you smashed as he sat stopped
at a red light, spike the rifle butt, and the concrete on which you’ll

May the needles the doctors used to close his eye, stab your pupils
every time you hit the wall and then the floor, which will be often.
May my father let you cower for a while, whimpering, "Please don't
shoot me. Please."
May he laugh, unload your gun, toss it away;
Then may he take you with bare hands.

May those hands, which taught his son to throw a curve and drive a nail
and hold a frog, feel like cannonballs against your jaw.
May his arms, which powered handstands and made their muscles jump
to please me, wrap your head and grind your face like stone.
May his chest, thick and hairy as a bear's, feel like a bear's snapping
your bones.
May his feet, which showed me the flutter kick and carried me miles
through the woods, feel like axes crushing your one claim to man-
hood as he chops you down.

And when you are down, and he's done with you, which will be soon,
since, even one-eyed, with brain damage, he's a merciful man,
May the door to the room open and let him stride away to the Valhalla
he deserves.
May you—bleeding, broken—drag yourself upright.

May you think the worst is over;
You've survived, and may still win.

Then may the door open once more, and let me in.

MogTheForgetfulCat Wed 19-Oct-11 21:02:46

O god, tigga, that's heartbreaking sad

Dawndonna Wed 19-Oct-11 21:05:09

And I Thought You Beside Me

And I thought you beside me
How rare and how desperate
And your eyes were wet
And your face as stlii
As the body of a leveret
On a tranced hill
But my thought belied me
And you were not there
But only the trees that shook
Only a storm that broke
Through the dark air.

Mervyn Peake.

fustyarse Wed 19-Oct-11 21:05:49

lilly - wow.

I adore Edwin Morgan

I think my favourite is Strawberries.....

There were never strawberries

like the ones we had

that sultry afternoon

sitting on the step

of the open french window

facing each other

your knees held in mine

the blue plates in our laps

the strawberries glistening

in the hot sunlight

we dipped them in sugar

looking at each other

not hurrying the feast

for one to come

the empty plates

laid on the stone together

with the two forks crossed

and I bent towards you

sweet in that air

in my arms

abandoned like a child

from your eager mouth

the taste of strawberries

in my memory

lean back again

let me love you

let the sun beat

on our forgetfulness

one hour of all

the heat intense

and summer lightning

on the Kilpatrick hills

let the storm wash the plates

fustyarse Wed 19-Oct-11 21:08:14

and this by Seamus Heaney, which is unbearably sad:

Mid Term Break

I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At two o'clock our neighbors drove me home.

In the porch I met my father crying--
He had always taken funerals in his stride--
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they were "sorry for my trouble,"
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand

In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o'clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
He lay in the four foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four foot box, a foot for every year.


Dawndonna Wed 19-Oct-11 21:08:28

I also love the last verse of Richard Lovelace: 'To Althea from Prison'.

Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage;
If I have freedom in my love
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty.

countessbabycham Wed 19-Oct-11 21:10:15

DD1 (7 years) fave poem:

The moon's a big white football,
The sun's a pound of butter.
The earth is going round the twist
And I'm a little nutter!

by Kit Wright.

lillybloom Wed 19-Oct-11 21:11:56

Thank you ladies. I realise it may look like the student was someone i knew. I'm afraid I never did but I came across the poem as a student teacher and it touched me deeply. The student was a young american boy. He didn't die in vain as I now work with new teachers too and always give them a copy too.

MumblingAndBloodyRagDoll Wed 19-Oct-11 21:13:22

I always like this one by Sir John Betjeman

Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!
It isn't fit for humans now,
There isn't grass to graze a cow.
Swarm over, Death!

Come, bombs and blow to smithereens
Those air -conditioned, bright canteens,
Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans,
Tinned minds, tinned breath.

Mess up the mess they call a town-
A house for ninety-seven down
And once a week a half a crown
For twenty years.

And get that man with double chin
Who'll always cheat and always win,
Who washes his repulsive skin
In women's tears:

And smash his desk of polished oak
And smash his hands so used to stroke
And stop his boring dirty joke
And make him yell.

But spare the bald young clerks who add
The profits of the stinking cad;
It's not their fault that they are mad,
They've tasted Hell.

It's not their fault they do not know
The birdsong from the radio,
It's not their fault they often go
To Maidenhead

And talk of sport and makes of cars
In various bogus-Tudor bars
And daren't look up and see the stars
But belch instead.

In labour-saving homes, with care
Their wives frizz out peroxide hair
And dry it in synthetic air
And paint their nails.

Come, friendly bombs and fall on Slough
To get it ready for the plough.
The cabbages are coming now;
The earth exhales.

ivykaty44 Wed 19-Oct-11 21:14:02

An old man going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
Through which was flowing a sullen tide
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followed after me to-day
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”

lifechanger Wed 19-Oct-11 21:15:26

Lovely Lilly, and Robest Louis Stevenson's poems were the stuff my childhood was made of - There go the Boats, (Dark brown is the river/ golden is the sand ) and one about the moon having a face like the clock in the hall...

PavlovtheWitchesCat Wed 19-Oct-11 21:19:10

How spooky. I was about to post this poem, as I have reminded myself of it and wanted to share, only to find this thread asking for poems.

Desiderata. Max Erhman.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful
Strive to be happy.

*in memory of my lovely mum. Miss you x

strictlycomedancingdiva Wed 19-Oct-11 21:19:22

This one has a special meaning for me:

Miss Me, But Let Me Go

When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me,
I want no rites in a gloom filled room
Why cry for a soul set free!
Miss me a little, but not for long,
And not with your head bowed low.
Remember the love we once shared,
Miss me, but let me go!
For this a journey we all must take,
And each must go alone;
It's all a part of the master's plan
A step on the road to home.
When you are lonely and sick of heart
Go to the friends we know,
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds,
Miss me, but let me go.

On a lighter note, this is one of my favourite childhood poems:

Halfway down the stairs
is a stair
where i sit.
there isn't any
other stair
quite like
i'm not at the bottom,
i'm not at the top;
so this is the stair
I always

Halfway up the stairs
Isn't up
And it isn't down.
It isn't in the nursery,
It isn't in town.
And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head.
It isn't really
It's somewhere else

fusty I have taught that poem many times and the room is always silent for a little while after the first reading. sad Wilfred Owen, "Dulce..." has the same effect, even on the most challenging of classes. sad sad Heaney's "Digging" also makes an impression but usually after students have studied it for a while, not on the first reading.

verysmellyeli Wed 19-Oct-11 21:22:48

strictly I love your first poem - who wrote it?

lillybloom Wed 19-Oct-11 21:23:15

Pavlov how strange you posted that. My dad gave me a copy of that when my lovely mum died. It really helps me on the dark days. today was one of them. Thank you

PavlovtheWitchesCat Wed 19-Oct-11 21:25:22

lilly you are welcome. It helps me through my dark days too. And today is one of them too. Or perhaps makes it worse. Not sure which. I know i cry whenever I read it, so my mum's copy is framed but not hung. Hope you are ok x

maxybrown Wed 19-Oct-11 21:34:47

wow this thread is greta. DH always used to read poetry to me and we haven't done that for ages. he is away this week but I am saving it so we can have an evening readin some smile

countessbabycham Wed 19-Oct-11 21:35:13

Ducks by Frank W Harvey

"From troubles of the world I turn to ducks,
Beautiful comical things...."

pranma Wed 19-Oct-11 21:39:27

All my favourites are there already-'He wishes for the cloths of Heaven' is my first choice but I was very moved to see 'Sunlight on the Garden' here.My first husband's friend read it at his funeral.
A lovely poem is by a lady named Sandra Lovegrove-it is called 'My last Bluebells' she was dying of breast cancer secondaries when she wrote it following a trip to a bluebell wood in Kent.I wish I could find a link to it for you.

breadandbutterfly Wed 19-Oct-11 21:41:23

Mumbling, thanks for the Betjeman - didn't know he'd written anything that good - inspiring me to seek out more.

Thanks, OP, for a lovely thread - lots of my favourites here as well as lots on new ones to enjoy.

castlesintheair Wed 19-Oct-11 21:43:20

This by Byron when I was a neurotic teenager

I speak not, I trace not, I breathe not thy name;
There is grief in the sound, there is guilt in the fame;
But the tear that now burns on my cheek may impart
The deep thoughts that dwell in that silence of heart.
Too brief for our passion, too long for our peace,
Were those hours - can their joy or their bitterness cease?
We repent, we abjure, we will break from our chain, -
We will part, we will fly to - unite it again!
Oh! thine be the gladness, and mine be the guilt!
Forgive me, adored one! - forsake if thou wilt;
But the heart which is thine shall expire undebased,
And man shall not break it - whatever thou may'st.
And stern to the haughty, but humble to thee,
This soul in its bitterest blackness shall be;
And our days seem as swift, and our moments more sweet,
With thee at my side, than with worlds at our feet.
One sigh of thy sorrow, one look of thy love,
Shall turn me or fix, shall reward or reprove.
And the heartless may wonder at all I resign -
Thy lips shall reply, not to them, but to mine.

Love 'Mid Term Break' - the first poem I looked at when I started my degree.

strictlycomedancingdiva Wed 19-Oct-11 21:44:32

verysmellyeli sorry I couldn't find an author when I searched for it online

A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood.
A fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good.
"Where are you going to, little brown mouse?
Come and have lunch in my underground house."
"It's terribly kind of you, Fox, but no –
I'm going to have lunch with a gruffalo."
"A gruffalo? What's a gruffalo?"
"A gruffalo! Why, didn't you know?
He has terrible tusks, and terrible claws,
And terrible teeth in his terrible jaws."
"Where are you meeting him?"
"Here, by these rocks,
And his favourite food is roasted fox."
"Roasted fox! I'm off!" Fox said.
"Goodbye, little mouse," and away he sped.

Sorry but it's the only poem I know. So I guess that makes it my favourite and least favourite poem!

castlesintheair Wed 19-Oct-11 21:45:36

I remember 'Slough' by John Betjeman! We did it at school when I was about 12 or 13. Didn't appreciate it at all at the time.

TheLittleFriend Wed 19-Oct-11 21:45:57

here it is pranma

lifechanger Wed 19-Oct-11 21:46:55


Today I saw my last bluebells
Shyly sheltering in Kent,
Not carpets but clouds, frothing unfocussed,
Misty covers for the moist cool forest floor,
Shimmering through shafts of birdland sun,
Glimpsed shining through the shaking tops,
And I looked long and longingly
At those dainty drooping florets
Soon to set their fruits and drop to earth,
Regenerating strength for next year's growth,
The future waiting patiently within.
So I told my last goodbyes
To all those thousand, thousand open ears,
Telling them to bring forth scent of my farewells,
A little remembrance on the air,
Mustily continuing long after I have stopped;
And a single sexton bird called out his verse,
With distant echoing refrains,
Shaking the hanging bells
To ring their silent obsequies.


WeepsInPaleDew Wed 19-Oct-11 21:50:22


Thank you so much for this thread. I have a glass of wine in my hand, two loyal hounds at my feet and a lump in my throat.

Pavlov Your poem answered a few of the questions I asked the other night. I was sitting on the riverbank with my dogs, there was such a beautiful aura around the moon and I asked the night sky what would become of me. I have always felt that I have never fitted in or found my purpose in life.

I will strive to be happy.

pranma Wed 19-Oct-11 21:51:43

Oh thank you so much-I am so grateful to you-I knew her from a breast cancer website and this just is so poignant.

LottieJenkins Wed 19-Oct-11 21:54:46
pranma Wed 19-Oct-11 21:55:48

That link that LF put on includes a picture-we all knew her as jpoet and that link is from a website set up by her dh.It contains many of her poems-not sure if she ever published though.

snoopdogg Wed 19-Oct-11 21:57:22

Aubade by Philip Larkin

I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what's really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.
The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
- The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused - nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast, moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear - no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anasthetic from which none come round.

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small, unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can't escape,
Yet can't accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

LtAllHallowsEve Wed 19-Oct-11 21:59:05

Colonel Fazackerley by Charles Causley

Colonel Fazackerley Butterworth-Toast
Bought an old castle complete with a ghost,
But someone or other forgot to declare
To Colonel Fazak that the spectre was there.

On the very first evening, while waiting to dine,
The Colonel was taking a fine sherry wine,
When the ghost, with a furious flash and a flare,
Shot out of the chimney and shivered, 'Beware!'

Colonel Fazackerley put down his glass
And said, 'My dear fellow, that's really first class!
I just can't conceive how you do it at all.
I imagine you're going to a Fancy Dress Ball?'

At this, the dread ghost made a withering cry.
Said the Colonel (his monocle firm in his eye),
'Now just how you do it, I wish I could think.
Do sit down and tell me, and please have a drink.'

The ghost in his phosphorous cloak gave a roar
And floated about between ceiling and floor.
He walked through a wall and returned through a pane
And backed up the chimney and came down again.

Said the Colonel, 'With laughter I'm feeling quite weak!'
(As trickles of merriment ran down his cheek).
'My house-warming party I hope you won't spurn.
You MUST say you'll come and you'll give us a turn!'

At this, the poor spectre - quite out of his wits -
Proceeded to shake himself almost to bits.
He rattled his chains and he clattered his bones
And he filled the whole castle with mumbles and moans.

But Colonel Fazackerley, just as before,
Was simply delighted and called out, 'Encore!'
At which the ghost vanished, his efforts in vain,
And never was seen at the castle again.

'Oh dear, what a pity!' said Colonel Fazak.
'I don't know his name, so I can't call him back.'
And then with a smile that was hard to define,
Colonel Fazackerley went in to dine.

My fave poem, learnt it as a child and still recite it to DD now smile

pissovski Wed 19-Oct-11 22:01:10

Some wonderful poems here. I have a long standing love of poetry, partly due to my nana, who taught me lots of them (some slightly rude ones too!grin)

One of the most special is called "The Wonderful Secret". Nan never wrote it down (she had them all committed to memory) and died in 1989, and i could only remember the last few lines, but about 4 years ago there was a letter in whatever paper my parent's bought asking for more information about it. the poem was printed (its by the regular contributor - Anon!) and my mum copied it out and gave it to me. She passed away just over 2 years ago, and I love that i have Nan's poem in Mum's handwriting. Anyway here it is

I've got such a wonderful secret,
Would you like to know it as well?
I told it to Pussy this morning
and I'm quite sure that Pussy won't tell.

Last night I crept into the study.
And Nobody knew I was there,
And I found such a beautiful dolly
- in a box - on Dear Daddy's armchair.

Now Daddy's too old for a dolly
and Baby is only just three
And I've got a birthday tomorrow
So I think that dolly's for me

Was very into poetry as a child and some of my other favourites are from then - The Centipede's Song from James and the Giant Peach and The Alphabet - Spike Milligan.I always loved "From A Railway Carriage", and, in the same vein, "Night Mail" (This is the night mail, crossing the border, bringing the cheque and the postal order"). one was in a frame in my bedroom.

countessbabycham Wed 19-Oct-11 22:06:30

What a treasure pissovski

KreepyKeep Wed 19-Oct-11 22:09:37


by Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911)

One day, through the primeval wood, A calf walked home, as good calves should; But made a trail all bent askew, A crooked trail, as all calves do.

Since then three hundred years have fled, And, I infer, the calf is dead. But still he left behind his trail, And thereby hangs my moral tale.

The trail was taken up next day By a lone dog that passed that way; And then a wise bellwether sheep Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep, And drew the flock behind him, too, As good bellwethers always do.

And from that day, o’er hill and glade, Through those old woods a path was made, And many men wound in and out, And dodged and turned and bent about, And uttered words of righteous wrath Because ’twas such a crooked path; But still they followed —do not laugh —The first migrations of that calf, And through this winding wood-way stalked Because he wobbled when he walked.

This forest path became a lane, That bent, and turned, and turned again. This crooked lane became a road, Where many a poor horse with his load Toiled on beneath the burning sun, And traveled some three miles in one. And thus a century and a half They trod the footsteps of that calf.

The years passed on in swiftness fleet. The road became a village street, And this, before men were aware, A city’s crowded thoroughfare, And soon the central street was this Of a renowned metropolis; And men two centuries and a half Trod in the footsteps of that calf.

Each day a hundred thousand rout Followed that zigzag calf about, And o’er his crooked journey went The traffic of a continent. A hundred thousand men were led By one calf near three centuries dead. They follow still his crooked way, And lose one hundred years a day, For thus such reverence is lent To well-established precedent.

A moral lesson this might teach Were I ordained and called to preach; For men are prone to go it blind Along the calf-paths of the mind, And work away from sun to sun To do what other men have done. They follow in the beaten track, And out and in, and forth and back, And still their devious course pursue, To keep the path that others do.

They keep the path a sacred groove, Along which all their lives they move; But how the wise old wood-gods laugh, Who saw the first primeval calf! Ah, many things this tale might teach —But I am not ordained to preach.

ithaka Wed 19-Oct-11 22:09:58

I love many of the poems here. This one seems appropriate for a mum's forum:

'For a Five Year Old' by Fleur Adcock

A snail is climbing up the window-sill
into your room, after a night of rain.
You call me in to see, and I explain
that it would be unkind to leave it there:
it might crawl to the floor; we must take care
that no one squashes it. You understand,
and carry it outside, with careful hand,
to eat a daffodil.

I see, then, that a kind of faith prevails:
your gentleness is moulded still by words
from me, who have trapped mice and shot wild birds,
from me, who drowned your kittens, who betrayed
your closest relatives, and who purveyed
the harshest kind of truth to many another.
But that is how things are: I am your mother,
and we are kind to snails.

strictlycomedancingdiva Wed 19-Oct-11 22:14:25

lottie not seen that before, sweet!! smile

lillybloom Wed 19-Oct-11 22:17:45

Thank you Pavlov

In a Station of the Metro.

The apparition of these faces in the crowd ;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
— Ezra Pound

And pretty much anything by Carol Ann Duffy - I love that woman

And of course the epically romantic 'Rape of the Lock' Some propper good old fashioned satirical poetry!

Slainte Wed 19-Oct-11 22:28:25

lifechanger thanks for this thread and for introducing me to that Timothy Winters poem.

Yama love the Good Thief, took me a few reads.

fustyarse that Heaney poem made me cry. I'm going to read more by him.

I think Rumi was so ahead of his time, his words are as relevant today as when he wrote them 700 years ago.

Another favourite is Iniskeen Road: July Evening by Patrick Kavanagh
The bicycles go by in twos and threes -
There's a dance in Billy Brennan's barn tonight,
And there's the half-talk code of mysteries
And the wink-and-elbow language of delight.
Half-past eight and there is not a spot
Upon a mile of road, no shadow thrown
That might turn out a man or woman, not
A footfall tapping secrecies of stone. 

I have what every poet hates in spite
Of all the solemn talk of contemplation.
Oh, Alexander Selkirk knew the plight
Of being king and government and nation.
A road, a mile of kingdom. I am king
Of banks and stones and every blooming thing.

I also love The Confirmation by Edwin Muir

Yes, yours, my love, is the right human face,
I in my mind had waited for this long,
Seeing the false and searching for the true,
Then found you as a traveller finds a place
Of welcome suddenly amid the wrong
Valleys and rocks and twisting roads. But you,
What shall I call you? A fountain in a waste,
A well of water in a country dry,
Or anything that’s honest and good, an eye
That makes the whole world bright. Your open heart,
Simple with giving, gives the primal deed,
The first good world, the blossom, the blowing seed,
The hearth, the steadfast land, the wandering sea.
Not beautiful or rare in every part.
But like yourself, as they were meant to be.

Slainte Wed 19-Oct-11 22:31:02

Does anyone know that poem written by a cancer sufferer about not keeping things "for good" ?

MissMunsterMogwi Wed 19-Oct-11 22:34:59

I love Little Red Cap by Carol Ann Duffy. Especially the last stanza, it strikes a real chord with me.

I also love Heaney's Digging after studying it.

rockboobs Wed 19-Oct-11 22:41:00

Louis MacNeice - Prayer before Birth

I am not yet born; O hear me.
Let not the bloodsucking bat or the rat or the stoat or the
club-footed ghoul come near me.

I am not yet born, console me.
I fear that the human race may with tall walls wall me,
with strong drugs dope me, with wise lies lure me,
on black racks rack me, in blood-baths roll me.

I am not yet born; provide me
With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk
to me, sky to sing to me, birds and a white light
in the back of my mind to guide me.

I am not yet born; forgive me
For the sins that in me the world shall commit, my words
when they speak me, my thoughts when they think me,
my treason engendered by traitors beyond me,
my life when they murder by means of my
hands, my death when they live me.

I am not yet born; rehearse me
In the parts I must play and the cues I must take when
old men lecture me, bureaucrats hector me, mountains
frown at me, lovers laugh at me, the white
waves call me to folly and the desert calls
me to doom and the beggar refuses
my gift and my children curse me.

I am not yet born; O hear me,
Let not the man who is beast or who thinks he is God
come near me.

I am not yet born; O fill me
With strength against those who would freeze my
humanity, would dragoon me into a lethal automaton,
would make me a cog in a machine, a thing with
one face, a thing, and against all those
who would dissipate my entirety, would
blow me like thistledown hither and
thither or hither and thither
like water held in the
hands would spill me.

Let them not make me a stone and let them not spill me.
Otherwise kill me.

Oh boy, it gets me every time [sob]

SpawnChorus Wed 19-Oct-11 22:54:18

Adrian Mitchell

At the top of the stairs
I ask for her hand. O.K.
She gives it to me.
How her fist fits my palm,
A bunch of consolation.
We take our time
Down the steep carpetway
As I wish silently
That the stairs were endless.

Onemorning Wed 19-Oct-11 23:31:39

Spawn, that's one of my favourites too. 'A bunch of consolation'. Wonderful.

Here is one of mine, another sad'un.

Long Distance II

Though my mother was already two years dead
Dad kept her slippers warming by the gas,
put hot water bottles her side of the bed
and still went to renew her transport pass.

You couldn't just drop in. You had to phone.
He'd put you off an hour to give him time
to clear away her things and look alone
as though his still raw love were such a crime.

He couldn't risk my blight of disbelief
though sure that very soon he'd hear her key
scrape in the rusted lock and end his grief.
He knew she'd just popped out to get the tea.

I believe life ends with death, and that is all.
You haven't both gone shopping; just the same,
in my new black leather phone book there's your name
and the disconnected number I still call.

-- Tony Harrison

LetTheSlaughterBeGincognito Thu 20-Oct-11 02:30:06

Beautiful poems everyone, thank you for sharing. Some old favourites and some new joys, too. Concentrated emotion.

I read this new one by Carol Ann Duffy at my sister's wedding recently; I think it's beautiful.

I might have raised your hand to the sky
to give you the ring surrounding the moon
or looked to twin the rings of your eyes
with mine
or added a ring to the rings of a tree
by forming a handheld circle with you, thee,
or walked with you
where a ring of church-bells,
looped the fields,
or kissed a lipstick ring on your cheek,
a pressed flower,
or met with you
in the ring of an hour,
and another hour . . .
I might
have opened your palm to the weather, turned, turned,
till your fingers were ringed in rain
or held you close,
they were playing our song,
in the ring of a slow dance
or carved our names
in the rough ring of a heart
or heard the ring of an owl's hoot
as we headed home in the dark
or the ring, first thing,
of chorussing birds
waking the house
or given the ring of a boat, rowing the lake,
or the ring of swans, monogamous, two,
or the watery rings made by the fish
as they leaped and splashed
or the ring of the sun's reflection there . . .
I might have tied
a blade of grass,
a green ring for your finger,
or told you the ring of a sonnet by heart
or brought you a lichen ring,
found on a warm wall,
or given a ring of ice in winter
or in the snow
sung with you the five gold rings of a carol
or stolen a ring of your hair
or whispered the word in your ear
that brought us here,
where nothing and no one is wrong,
and therefore I give you this ring.

spiderslegs Thu 20-Oct-11 03:04:52

Lovely, lovely, lovely

Mine are ever ebbing & flowing, am having a Keats moment, -

Here Lies one who name was writ in water


But this is human life: the war, the deeds,
The disappointment, the anxiety,
Imagination's struggles, far and nigh,
All human; bearing in themselves this good,
That they are still the air, the subtle food,
To make us feel existence, and to shew
How quiet death is.

Endymion, Book II, l.153-159.

spiderslegs Thu 20-Oct-11 03:08:05

This is one of my favourites though;

Clear night, thumb-top of a moon, a back-lit sky.
Moon-fingers lay down their same routine
On the side deck and the threshold, the white keys and the black keys.
Bird hush and bird song. A cassia flower falls.
I want to be bruised by God.
I want to be strung up in a strong light and singled out.
I want to be stretched, like music wrung from a dropped seed.
I want to be entered and picked clean.
And the wind says “What?” to me.
And the castor beans, with their little earrings of death, say “What?” to me.
And the stars start out on their cold slide through the dark.
And the gears notch and the engines wheel.

Charles Wright. Makes me feel weak.

spiderslegs Thu 20-Oct-11 03:15:08

Oh, or this, the last line makes me cry every time, a l beautiful depiction of intimacy

In the middle of the night, when we get up
after making love, we look at each other
in total friendship, we know so fully
what the other has been doing. Bound to each other like
soldiers coming out of a battle,
bound with the tie of the birth-room, we
wander down the hall to the bathroom, I can
hardly walk, we weave through the dark
soft air, I know where you are
with my eyes closed, we are bound to each other with the
huge invisible threads of sex, though out
sexes themselves are muted, dark and
exhausted and delicately crushed, the whole
body is a sex—surely this
is the most blessed time of life,
the children deep asleep in their beds like a
vein of coal and a vein of gold
not discovered yet. I sit on the
toilet in the dark, you are somewhere in the room, I
open the window and the snow has fallen in a
deep drift against the pane, I
look up into it, a
world of cold crystals, silent and
glistening so I call out to you and you
come and hold my hand and I say
I cannot see beyond it! I cannot see beyond it!

spiderslegs Thu 20-Oct-11 03:17:34

Lovely thread - though I am weeping now.

spiderslegs Thu 20-Oct-11 03:23:45


What will survive of us is love

Wondeful poem & line

spiderslegs Thu 20-Oct-11 03:26:46

And summer's lease hath all too short a date


What a lovely thread.

Mine was the inspiration for my username.

Everyone Sang

Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on – on - and out of sight.
Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away ... O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.

Siegfreid Sassoon

spiderslegs Thu 20-Oct-11 03:54:13

I am a mess of snot & tears.

Too much poetry ain't good for a girl.

spiderslegs Thu 20-Oct-11 04:18:10

A snail is climbing up the window-sill
into your room, after a night of rain.
You call me in to see, and I explain
that it would be unkind to leave it there:
It might crawl to the floor; we must take care
that no one squashes it. You understand,
and carry it outside, with careful had,
to eat a daffodil.

I see, then, that a kind of faith prevails:
your gentleness is moulded still by words
from me, who have trapped mice and shot wild birds,
from me, who drowned your kittens, who betrayed
four closest relatives, and who purveyed
the harshest kind of truth to may another.
But that is how things are: I am your mother,
and we are kind to snails.

spooktrain Thu 20-Oct-11 09:41:12

I love the atmosphere of this one by Robert Frost, all wintery

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

spooktrain Thu 20-Oct-11 09:41:35

Also The Road not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

LetTheSlaughterBeGincognito Thu 20-Oct-11 10:04:09

Everybodysang that is such a beautiful poem. I remember seeing on the tube for the first time in years (saw it for the first time in gcse English) recently. I had tears in my eyes when I got off!

milk Thu 20-Oct-11 10:27:22

O Tell Me The Truth About Love

Some say love's a little boy,
And some say it's a bird,
Some say it makes the world go around,
Some say that's absurd,
And when I asked the man next-door,
Who looked as if he knew,
His wife got very cross indeed,
And said it wouldn't do.

Does it look like a pair of pyjamas,
Or the ham in a temperance hotel?
Does its odour remind one of llamas,
Or has it a comforting smell?
Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is,
Or soft as eiderdown fluff?
Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges?
O tell me the truth about love.

Our history books refer to it
In cryptic little notes,
It's quite a common topic on
The Transatlantic boats;
I've found the subject mentioned in
Accounts of suicides,
And even seen it scribbled on
The backs of railway guides.

Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian,
Or boom like a military band?
Could one give a first-rate imitation
On a saw or a Steinway Grand?
Is its singing at parties a riot?
Does it only like Classical stuff?
Will it stop when one wants to be quiet?
O tell me the truth about love.

I looked inside the summer-house;
It wasn't over there;
I tried the Thames at Maidenhead,
And Brighton's bracing air.
I don't know what the blackbird sang,
Or what the tulip said;
But it wasn't in the chicken-run,
Or underneath the bed.

Can it pull extraordinary faces?
Is it usually sick on a swing?
Does it spend all its time at the races,
or fiddling with pieces of string?
Has it views of its own about money?
Does it think Patriotism enough?
Are its stories vulgar but funny?
O tell me the truth about love.

When it comes, will it come without warning
Just as I'm picking my nose?
Will it knock on my door in the morning,
Or tread in the bus on my toes?
Will it come like a change in the weather?
Will its greeting be courteous or rough?
Will it alter my life altogether?
O tell me the truth about love.

WH Auden


Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

W.H. Auden

SpawnChorus Thu 20-Oct-11 10:55:47

Long Distance II and Clear Night are both new to me, and literally breath-taking.

lostlady Thu 20-Oct-11 13:12:10

I love that Adrian Mitchell poem: I have a 3 year old....

Mine is When You Go by Edwin Morgan

When you go,
if you go
And I should want to die,
There's nothing I'd be saved by
more than the time
you fell asleep in my arms
in a trust so gentle
I let the darkening room
drink up the evening, til
rest, or the new rain
lightly roused you awake
I asked if you heard the rain in your sleep
and half dreaming still you only said,
I love you

PavlovtheWitchesCat Thu 20-Oct-11 13:34:34

weepsinpaledew Desiderata always answers those questions for me when I forget the answers!

breadandbutterfly Thu 20-Oct-11 15:11:42

SpawnChorus, that Adrian Mitchell got me all weepy too.

Weepy thread.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 20-Oct-11 15:13:37

Have we had Ogden Nash's 'Ode to Babies'?

A bit of talcum
is always walcum

hazeyjane Thu 20-Oct-11 15:19:35

Western wind when wilt thou blow
The small rain down can rain
Christ if my love were in my arms
And I in my bed again.

thefirstMrsDeVeerie Thu 20-Oct-11 15:20:36

The Recall
The night was dark when she went away, and the slept.
The night is dark now, and I call for her, "Come back, my
darling; the world is asleep; and no one would know, if you came
for a moment while stars are gazing at stars."
She went away when the trees were in bud and the spring was
Now the flowers are in high bloom and I call, "Come back, my
darling. The children gather and scatter flowers in reckless sport.
And if you come and take one little blossom no one will miss it."
Those that used to play are playing still, so spendthrift is
I listen to their chatter and call, "Come back, my darling,
for mother's heart is full to the brim with love, and if you come
to snatch only one little kiss from her no one will grudge it."

Rabinderath Tagore

BreeVanDerTramp Thu 20-Oct-11 15:21:15

I love this one (from SATC blush) we had this read at our wedding by a close friend:

His hello was the end of her endings
Her laugh was their first step down the aisle
His hand would be hers to hold forever
His forever was as simple as her smile
He said she was what was missing
She said instantly she knew
She was a question to be answered
And his answer was "I do"

Everybodysang I've always loved that Siegfreid Sasson one - can't actually get through it without tearing up. The one about the prayer for the man who mugged my father - heartbreaking.

And pissovski, that dolly one is lovely. My Grandma used to tell me this one and now I say it to my daughter:

The Lost Doll - Charles Kingsley

I once had a sweet little doll, dears,
The prettiest doll in the world;
Her cheeks were so red and white, dears,
And her hair was so charmingly curled.
But I lost my poor little doll, dears,
As I played on the heath one day;
And I cried for her more than a week, dears,
But I never could find where she lay.

I found my poor little doll, dears,
As I played on the heath one day;
Folks say she is terribly changed, dears,
For her paint is all washed away,
And her arms trodden off by the cows, dears,
And her hair not the least bit curled;
Yet for old sake's sake, she is still, dears,
The prettiest doll in the world.

I love that my daughter loves some of the poems in When We Were Very Young by AA Milne especially this one:

The King asked
The Queen, and
The Queen asked
The Dairymaid:
"Could we have some butter for
The Royal slice of bread?"

The Queen asked the Dairymaid,
The Dairymaid
Said, "Certainly,
I'll go and tell the cow
Before she goes to bed."

The Dairymaid
She curtsied,
And went and told the Alderney:
"Don't forget the butter for
The Royal slice of bread."

The Alderney said sleepily:
"You'd better tell
His Majesty
That many people nowadays
Like marmalade

The Dairymaid
Said "Fancy!"
And went to
Her Majesty.
She curtsied to the Queen, and
She turned a little red:
"Excuse me,
Your Majesty,
For taking of
The liberty,
But marmalade is tasty, if
It's very

The Queen said
And went to his Majesty:
"Talking of the butter for
The royal slice of bread,
Many people
Think that
Is nicer.
Would you like to try a little

The King said,
And then he said,
"Oh, deary me!"
The King sobbed, "Oh, deary me!"
And went back to bed.
He whimpered,
"Could call me
A fussy man;
I only want
A little bit
Of butter for
My bread!"

The Queen said,
"There, there!"
And went to
The Dairymaid.
The Dairymaid
Said, "There, there!"
And went to the shed.
The cow said,
"There, there!
I didn't really
Mean it;
Here's milk for his porringer
And butter for his bread."

The queen took the butter
And brought it to
His Majesty.
The King said
"Butter, eh?"
And bounced out of bed.
"Nobody," he said,
As he kissed her
"Nobody," he said,
As he slid down
The banisters,
My darling,
Could call me
A fussy man -

I do like a little bit of butter to my bread!"


PandorasSocks Thu 20-Oct-11 15:52:42

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year's leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year's bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide!
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go,--so with his memory they brim!
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, "There is no memory of him here!"
And so stand stricken, so remembering him!

Edna St Vincent Millay

branson Thu 20-Oct-11 16:04:22

I want to see them starving
The so called working class
Their weekly wages halving
Their women stewing grass
When I ride out each morning
In one of my new suits
I want to see them fawning
To clean my car and boots

I think its Philip Larkin

I also love the highwayman.

I love Holly McNish, especially WOW, English Breakfast, and Its not over.

branson thanks for posting about Wow. I heard the poet read it Woman's Hour a few months back but I didn't catch the author so didn't think I'd hear it again. It's incredible. I've had a go at posting the link to the programme - it's very close to the beginning.

branson Thu 20-Oct-11 16:13:40

Hollie McNish website

English Breakfast is actually called British National Breakfast. Its very good

demonicma Thu 20-Oct-11 16:34:16

so many of my favourites already posted, but this is my number one:

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.

~ Mary Oliver

WatermelonSugar Thu 20-Oct-11 17:04:58

What a great thread. This is a favourite poem of mine - sorry if I've got any of it wrong but I'm having to type it one-handed from memory as I'm sat here feeding the baby. I particularly like the last two lines.

From 'Admonitions to a special person' by Anne Sexton

Watch out for love
Unless it is true and every part of you says Yes
Including your toes
For it will wrap you up like a mummy
And your screams won't be heard
And none of your runnings will run

Love? Be it man, be it woman
It must be a wave that you want to glide in on
Give your body to it, give your laugh to it
Give, when the gravelly sand takes you, your tears to the land
To love another is something like prayer and cannot be planned
You just fall into it because you belief undoes your disbelief

LaCiccolina Thu 20-Oct-11 17:08:37

My favourite? I have a few but this one always makes me laugh, and at the moment a laugh is free so Im thinking of it a bit more often than before!

Pigs are nice
And pigs are kind
but pigs are seldom clean
Snout before and tail behind
And bacon in-between!

ComradeJing Thu 20-Oct-11 17:32:56

Any of Brian Pattens love poems but in particular:

Sleeping beside you I dreamt
I woke beside you;
Waking beside you
I thought I was dreaming.

Have you ever slept beside an ocean?
Well yes,
It is like this.

The whole motion of landscapes, of oceans
Is within her.
She is
The innocence of any flesh sleeping,
So vulnerable
No protection is needed.

In such times
The heart opens,
Contains all there is,
There being no more than her.

In what country she is
I cannot tell.
But knowing – because there is love
And it blots out all demons –
She is safe,
I can turn,
Sleep well beside her.

Waking beside her I am dreaming.
Dreaming of such wakings
I am to all loves senses woken.

InstructionsToTheDouble Thu 20-Oct-11 18:01:54

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

GalaxyWeaver Thu 20-Oct-11 18:07:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MittzyTheVampishVixen Thu 20-Oct-11 18:09:17

Always, always Kipling's If.

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

And for some reason, this from Babe....................................

If I Had Words

If I had words to make a day for you,
I'd sing a morning golden & true
I would make this day last for all time
then fill the night deep with moonshine
If I could make a day for you
I'd give you a morning golden & true
I would make this day last for all time..
then fill the night deep with moonshine

GalaxyWeaver Thu 20-Oct-11 18:10:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MittzyTheVampishVixen Thu 20-Oct-11 18:17:58

I also love Auden's Funeral blues,(downthread) it makes me well up.

mamandeouisti Thu 20-Oct-11 18:20:23

Some fantastic poems here, everyone. Thanks for all the weepy ones. However, I think you need cheering up with something a little more frivolous:

Just in Case by Charlotte Mitchell

I'm going to the sea for a weekend,
in a couple of days I'll be back,
so I'll just take my little brown suit and a blouse
and a beret and carry my mac.

But what if the house is a cold one,
the house where I'm going to stay,
no fires after April, no hot drinks at night
and the windows wide open all day?
I'd better take one - no, two cardys
and my long tartan scarf for my head,
and my chaste new pyjamas in case they decide
to bring me my breakfast in bed,
and what about church on Sunday?
I could wear my beret and suit,
but if it were sunny, it would be a chance
to wear my straw hat with the fruit.
I can't wear my little brown suit, though
not with the straw and the fruit,
so I'll just take a silk dress to go with the straw
and a silk scarf to go with the suit.
I'll just take my jeans and that jumper
in case we go out in the car,
and my Guernsey in case we go out in a boat
and d'you know where my swimming things are?

D'you think I should take that black velvet
in case they've booked seats for a play?
And is it still usual to take your own towel
when you go somewhere to stay?
I had thought of just taking slippers,
but they do look disgustingly old,
I'd better take best shoes and sandals and boots
for the church and the heat and the cold.

I daren't go without my umbrella
in case I'm dressed and it rains;
I'm bound to need socks and my wellies
for walking down long muddy lanes.

I'd rather not take my old dressing gown,
its such a business to pack,
but s'pose they have breakfast before they get dressed
I'd have to have mine in my old mac.

I'm going to the sea for the weekend,
in a couple of days I'll be back,
so I'll just take my little brown suit and a blouse,
two cardys, my long tartan scarf,
my chaste new pyjamas
my straw hat with the fruit,
my silk dress, my silk scarf,
my jeans, that jumper,
my Guernsey, my swimming things,
my black velvet, my towel,
my slippers (no one need see them)
my sandals, my boots, my umbrella
my socks, my wellies
my dressing gown, no, not my dressing gown,
Ok my dressing gown,
and a beret and carry my mac.

amicissima Thu 20-Oct-11 18:36:00

What a great thread and lots of lovely poems. I agree with so many, specially perhaps 'If' and 'Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening'.

muddyvampsters123, if you like the Ancient Mariner, do you know 'The Busy Man's Ancient Mariner' by H S Mackintosh?

I think my overall favourite is Shakespeare's Sonnet 29:

When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

I love being 'in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes' rather than p****d off!

So many really moving poems come from war, such as 'For The Fallen' by Binyon which gives us the 'We shall not grow old ... ' at Remembrance Day, but for short and to the point there's the Kohima memorial:

When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today

pinkhousesarebest Thu 20-Oct-11 18:54:07

I love this

A Day in Autumn

It will not always be like this,
The air windless, a few last
Leaves adding their decoration
To the trees’ shoulders, braiding the cuffs
Of the boughs with gold; a bird preening

In the lawn’s mirror. Having looked up
From the day’s chores, pause a minute,
Let the mind take its photograph
Of the bright scene, something to wear
Against the heart in the long cold.

londonone Thu 20-Oct-11 19:16:09

Probably considered terribly naff but I love

Death Is Nothing At All

Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other
That we are still
Call me by my old familiar name
Speak to me in the easy way you always used
Put no difference into your tone
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed
At the little jokes we always enjoyed together
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was
Let it be spoken without effort
Without the ghost of a shadow in it

Life means all that it ever meant
It is the same as it ever was
There is absolute unbroken continuity
What is death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind
Because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you for an interval
Somewhere very near
Just around the corner

All is well.

Canon Henry Scott-Holland, 1847-1918

and on a happier note!

I love you,
Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.

I love you,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.

I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;
I love you
For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over
All the foolish, weak things
That you can't help
Dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find.

I love you because you
Are helping me to make
Of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern
But a temple;
Out of the works
Of my every day
Not a reproach
But a song.

I love you
Because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good,
And more than any fate
To make me happy.

You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Without a sign.
You have done it
By being yourself

TimrousBeastie Thu 20-Oct-11 19:18:54

Myself by Edgar Albert Guest

I have to live with myself and so
I want to be fit for myself to know.
I want to be able as days go by,
always to look myself straight in the eye;
I don't want to stand with the setting sun
and hate myself for the things I have done.
I don't want to keep on a closet shelf
a lot of secrets about myself
and fool myself as I come and go
into thinking no one else will ever know
the kind of person I really am,
I don't want to dress up myself in sham.
I want to go out with my head erect
I want to deserve all men's respect;
but here in the struggle for fame and wealth
I want to be able to like myself.
I don't want to look at myself and know that
I am bluster and bluff and empty show.
I never can hide myself from me;
I see what others may never see;
I know what others may never know,
I never can fool myself and so,
whatever happens I want to be
self respecting and conscience free.

also love Burns as my name might suggest smile

beachholiday Thu 20-Oct-11 19:23:00

That's a beautiful one, MrsDevere. I had never heard it before.

HooberGoober Thu 20-Oct-11 19:24:32

Spring and Fall: To a Young Child

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie.
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

aliceliddell Thu 20-Oct-11 19:30:14

I just spent bloody ages doing this, then lost it angry Try again...

The life that I have
Is all that I have
the life that I have is yours

The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours

A peace I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death shall be but a pause

For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours

Leo Marx wrote this for his fiancee who was killed in the war; he later worked for Special Operations and the poem was used by Violette Szabo for her code. She was shot as a Secret Agent at Ravensbruck. The poem is used in the film of her life 'Carve her name with pride'. Try watching it without crying.

pranma Thu 20-Oct-11 19:51:49

Has anyone mentioned Auden's:
Lay your sleeping head my love
Human on my faithless arm.
Time and fevers burn away individual beauty from
Mortal children
And the grave proves the child ephemeral.
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie
Mortal human but to me
The entirely beautiful.
That is the first stanza and there may be some errors as it was typed from memory.

thefirstMrsDeVeerie Thu 20-Oct-11 19:55:41

Isnt it beach

He was an amazing poet who suffered a great deal of loss. He one a noble prize in the 1900s. Quite an achievement for an Indian in those days!

iMemoo Thu 20-Oct-11 19:58:24

Fare Thee Well by Byron

I can't c&p it as I'm on my phone, if anyone is feeling very lovely they could do it for me.

NosfeRaahhtu Thu 20-Oct-11 19:59:23

I came on here yesterday to post 'Prayer before Birth' and got distracted- so am glad to see Rockboobs had the same idea. I used to have a copy on my wall at university. Very powerful.

Some great stuff on here.

SuePurblybiltFromBitsofCorpses Thu 20-Oct-11 20:02:00

The love song of J Alfred Prufrock

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats 5
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…. 10
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes, 15
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, 20
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window panes; 25
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate; 30
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go 35
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair— 40
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare 45
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, 50
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all— 55
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways? 60
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress 65
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?
. . . . . . . .
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets 70
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
. . . . . . . .
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully! 75
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis? 80
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, 85
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while, 90
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”— 95
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while, 100
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen: 105
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”
. . . . . . . .
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use, 115
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old … 120
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me. 125

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown 130
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

SuePurblybiltFromBitsofCorpses Thu 20-Oct-11 20:03:26

iMemoo's choice:

Fare Thee Well

George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788–1824)

FARE thee well! and if for ever,
Still for ever, fare thee well:
Even though unforgiving, never
’Gainst thee shall my heart rebel.

Would that breast were bared before thee 5
Where thy head so oft hath lain,
While that placid sleep came o’er thee
Which thou ne’er canst know again:

Would that breast, by thee glanced over,
Every inmost thought could show! 10
Then thou wouldst at last discover
’Twas not well to spurn it so.

Though the world for this commend thee—
Though it smile upon the blow,
Even its praises must offend thee, 15
Founded on another’s woe:

Though my many faults defaced me,
Could no other arm be found,
Than the one which once embraced me,
To inflict a cureless wound? 20

Yet, oh yet, thyself deceive not;
Love may sink by slow decay,
But by sudden wrench, believe not
Hearts can thus be torn away:

Still thine own its life retaineth, 25
Still must mine, though bleeding, beat;
And the undying thought which paineth
Is—that we no more may meet.

These are words of deeper sorrow
Than the wail above the dead; 30
Both shall live, but every morrow
Wake us from a widow’d bed.

And when thou wouldst solace gather,
When our child’s first accents flow,
Wilt thou teach her to say ‘Father!’ 35
Though his care she must forego?

When her little hands shall press thee,
When her lip to thine is press’d,
Think of him whose prayer shall bless thee,
Think of him thy love had bless’d! 40

Should her lineaments resemble
Those thou never more may’st see,
Then thy heart will softly tremble
With a pulse yet true to me.

All my faults perchance thou knowest, 45
All my madness none can know;
All my hopes, where’er thou goest,
Wither, yet with thee they go.

Every feeling hath been shaken;
Pride, which not a world could bow, 50
Bows to thee—by thee forsaken,
Even my soul forsakes me now:

But ’tis done—all words are idle—
Words from me are vainer still;
But the thoughts we cannot bridle 55
Force their way without the will.

Fare thee well! thus disunited,
Torn from every nearer tie,
Sear’d in heart, and lone, and blighted,
More than this I scarce can die.

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Always gets me.

I also love the Raven. Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

I love poetry. Words, used well, have such power.

TheLittleFriend Thu 20-Oct-11 20:08:55

I love that one too Alice and love the film it's in

matana Thu 20-Oct-11 20:12:23

'If' by Rudyard Kipling. An ode to optimism. Philip Larkin is a miserable git.

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

izzybiz Thu 20-Oct-11 20:14:25

EE Cummings - I carry your heart.

I carry your heart with me(I carry it in
my heart)I am never without it(anywhere
I go you go ,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

I fear no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)I want I
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

Here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart(I carry it in my heart)

delphinedownunder Thu 20-Oct-11 20:16:36

This one by Seamus Heaney.


by Seamus Heaney

Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me

Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
Confident that we have built our wall.

There is another Heaney poem about the death of his little brother and i can't remeber the title. But there is a line in it that fills me with horror. A four foot box. A foot for every year.

matana Thu 20-Oct-11 20:17:59

Oh god, delphine, that's the worst line i've ever heard.

delphine that is called MidTerm Break. It is every mother's worst nightmare.

I love the one you have reproduced here. I am a huge Heaney fan. It's a good one for a long marriage. grin

BestIsWest Thu 20-Oct-11 20:20:29

Two Autumn poems

Ted Hughes

October Dawn

October is marigold, and yet
A glass half full of wine left out

To the dark heaven all night, by dawn
Has dreamed a premonition

Of ice across its eye as if
The ice-age had begun to heave.

The lawn overtrodden and strewn
From the night before, and the whistling green

Shrubbery are doomed. Ice
Has got its spearhead into place.

First a skin, delicately here
Restraining a ripple from the air;

Soon plate and rivet on pond and brook;
Then tons of chain and massive lock

To hold rivers. Then, sound by sight
Will Mammoth and Saber-tooth celebrate

Reunion while a fist of cold
Squeezes the fire at the core of the world,

Squeezes the fire at the core of the heart,
And now it is about to start.

And Sonnet 73 which always makes me think of my father.

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

SuePurblybiltFromBitsofCorpses Thu 20-Oct-11 20:30:51

Are we sick of Yeats yet? grin

When you are old.....

WHEN you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Canella Thu 20-Oct-11 20:37:02

fusty - loved that you picked Strawberries by Edwin Morgen - its been my favourite poem since he came to school when I was 15 and read it out. Read it every so often and it always makes me smile.

BestIsWest Thu 20-Oct-11 20:37:03

No Sue never!

hackmum Thu 20-Oct-11 20:39:51

I was surprised to discover recently that the Robert Frost poem The Road Not Taken (which someone quoted earlier) is traditionally misinterpreted; it's actually intended ironically. Which made me like it better...

My favourite poem is by Sheenagh Pugh, though she claims to be quite sick of it, because it is so often quoted, anthologised and, yes, misinterpreted. I like it anyway. It's called "Sometimes":

Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail.
Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war,
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best intentions do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen; may it happen for you.

BestIsWest Thu 20-Oct-11 20:40:21

Always loved this too

SHE wore a new 'terra-cotta' dress,
And we stayed, because of the pelting storm,
Within the hansom's dry recess,
Though the horse had stopped; yea, motionless
We sat on, snug and warm.
Then the dounpour ceased, to my sharp sad pain,
And the glass that had screened our forms before
Flew up, and out she sprang to her door:
I should have kissed her if the rain
Had lasted a minute more.

MonaLotte Thu 20-Oct-11 20:42:05

We did this at school and I have always loved it:

Blackberry Picking, Seamus Heany

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full,
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.

We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.

mildertduck Thu 20-Oct-11 20:42:45


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

--William Ernest Henley

If ever I was to have a tattoo, it would be the last line of this poem.

SuePurblybiltFromBitsofCorpses Thu 20-Oct-11 20:44:29

"I should have kissed her if the rain
Had lasted a minute more."


I found this just this week and I like it:

A Pity, We Were Such a Good Invention
Yehuda Amaichai

They amputated
Your thighs off my hips.
As far as I'm concerned
They are all surgeons. All of them.

They dismantled us
Each from the other.
As far as I'm concerned
They are all engineers. All of them.

A pity. We were such a good
And loving invention.
An aeroplane made from a man and wife.
Wings and everything.
We hovered a little above the earth.

We even flew a little.

beatenbyayellowskull so glad someone mentioned christina rossetti. My favourite one of hers is


Come to me in the silence of the night;
Come in the speaking silence of a dream;
Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright
As sunlight on a stream;
Come back in tears,
O memory, hope and love of finished years.

O dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter-sweet,
Whose wakening should have been in Paradise,
Where souls brim-full of love abide and meet;
Where thirsting longing eyes
Watch the slow door
That opening, letting in, lets out no more.

Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live
My very life again though cold in death;
Come back to me in dreams, that I may give
Pulse for pulse, breath for breath:
Speak low, lean low,
As long ago, my love, how long ago.

But on a lighter note, you can't beat a bit of Roger McGough

Strange Ways

Increasingly often now
You reach into your handbag
(the one I bought you some Xmases ago)
And pulling out
A pair of dead cats
Skinned and glistening like the underside of tongues
Or old elastoplasts
Sticky with earwigs
You laugh cruelongly
And hurl them at my eyes
Even though we have grown old together
And my kisses are little more than functional
I still love you
You and your strange ways

nearly all of Wendy Cope's but especially this one:


On Waterloo Bridge where we said our goodbyes,
the weather conditions bring tears to my eyes.
I wipe them away with a black woolly glove
And try not to notice I've fallen in love

On Waterloo Bridge I am trying to think:
This is nothing. you're high on the charm and the drink.
But the juke-box inside me is playing a song
That says something different. And when was it wrong?

On Waterloo Bridge with the wind in my hair
I am tempted to skip. You're a fool. I don't care.
the head does its best but the heart is the boss-
I admit it before I am halfway across

ooh and this Wendy Cope one as well:


Some men never think of it.
You did. You’d come along
And say you’d nearly brought me flowers
But something had gone wrong.

The shop was closed. Or you had doubts —
The sort that minds like ours
Dream up incessantly. You thought
I might not want your flowers.

It made me smile and hug you then.
Now I can only smile.
But, look, the flowers you nearly brought
Have lasted all this while.

SuePurblybiltFromBitsofCorpses Thu 20-Oct-11 20:55:52

Love Wendy Cope.

Isn't she very hmm about people reproducing her pomes on the internet though? <imagines SHMNBN Mark II>

yes she is but I copied and pasted these from other websites - there's loads out there, honest.... blush

SuePurblybiltFromBitsofCorpses Thu 20-Oct-11 21:01:28

Don't worry, if she comes you can hide behind me grin.

breadandbutterfly Thu 20-Oct-11 21:03:46

I was just going to post that Wendy Cope too! I love it as well - was just reading it to my dd yesterday.

If we're talking Waterloo Bridge, then we should have alongside it:

Upon Westminster Bridge

Sept. 3, 1802

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth like a garment wear

The beauty of the morning: silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky,
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!

The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

William Wordsworth

OK well here's a nice miserable Philip Larkin one to distract Wendy

A stationary sense... as, I suppose,
I shall have, till my single body grows
Inaccurate, tired;
Then I shall start to feel the backward pull
Take over, sickening and masterful -
Some say, desired.

And this must be the prime of life... I blink,
As if at pain; for it is pain, to think
This pantomime
Of compensating act and counter-act
Defeat and counterfeit, makes up, in fact
My ablest time.

I was such a miserable cheerful youth I used to photocopy Philip Larkin poems and put them up on my walls.... blush

breadandbutterfly Thu 20-Oct-11 21:07:03

And this one:

Everything Changes

Based on the poem ‘Alles wandelt sich’ by Bertolt Brecht

Everything changes. We plant

trees for those born later

but what’s happened has happened,

and poisons poured into the seas

cannot be drained out again.

What’s happened has happened.

Poisons poured into the seas

cannot be drained out again, but

everything changes. We plant

trees for those born later.

-Cicely Herbert

GalloweesG Thu 20-Oct-11 21:07:36

Think I've got something in my eye. <sniffs>

This was one of ones I had pinned up <wonders why I failed my degree...hmm>

To Failure

You do not come dramatically, with dragons
That rear up with my life between their paws
And dash me butchered down beside the wagons,
The horses panicking; nor as a clause
Clearly set out to warn what can be lost,
What out-of-pocket charges must be borne
Expenses met; nor as a draughty ghost
That's seen, some mornings, running down a lawn.

It is these sunless afternoons, I find
Install you at my elbow like a bore
The chestnut trees are caked with silence. I'm
Aware the days pass quicker than before,
Smell staler too. And once they fall behind
They look like ruin. You have been here some time.

Abcinthia Thu 20-Oct-11 21:15:35

This Be The Verse - Philip Larkin

I also really like The Rival by Sylvia Plath.

If the moon smiled, she would resemble you.
You leave the same impression
Of something beautiful, but annihilating.
Both of you are great light borrowers.
Her O-mouth grieves at the world; yours is unaffected,

And your first gift is making stone out of everything.
I wake to a mausoleum; you are here,
Ticking your fingers on the marble table, looking for cigarettes,
Spiteful as a woman, but not so nervous,
And dying to say something unanswerable.

The moon, too, abuses her subjects,
But in the daytime she is ridiculous.
Your dissatisfactions, on the other hand,
Arrive through the mailslot with loving regularity,
White and blank, expansive as carbon monoxide.

No day is safe from news of you,
Walking about in Africa maybe, but thinking of me.

aliceliddell Thu 20-Oct-11 21:15:43

I like a lot of these - 'Strawberries', the Wendy Cope, 'Stop the Clocks', love 'em. What about Death of an Airman? And that war one about 'easing the spring'? 'Cargoes'?
Great thread.

spaqueen Thu 20-Oct-11 21:19:27

Lovely to see the Edwin Muir and so much Heaney. My favourite, good for this time of year is

Walking Away by C Day Lewis

I don't have my copy to hand, but if you can dig it out, it's worth it.

pinkhousesarebest Thu 20-Oct-11 21:20:24

This one.

It is eighteen years ago, almost to the day –
A sunny day with leaves just turning,
The touch-lines new-ruled – since I watched you play
Your first game of football, then, like a satellite
Wrenched from its orbit, go drifting away

Behind a scatter of boys. I can see
You walking away from me towards the school
With the pathos of a half-fledged thing set free
Into a wilderness, the gait of one
Who finds no path where the path should be.

That hesitant figure, eddying away
Like a winged seed loosened from its parent stem,
Has something I never quite grasp to convey
About nature’s give-and-take – the small, the scorching
Ordeals which fire one’s irresolute clay.

I have had worse partings, but none that so
Gnaws at my mind still. Perhaps it is roughly
Saying what God alone could perfectly show –
How selfhood begins with a walking away,
And love is proved in the letting go.

iMemoo Thu 20-Oct-11 21:21:00

Sue, thank you for doing that for me

spaqueen Thu 20-Oct-11 21:28:52

Thank you pink. Gets me every time, that one.

breadandbutterfly Thu 20-Oct-11 21:31:33

That's lovely pink.

pinkhousesarebest Thu 20-Oct-11 21:34:02

Me too. Agony.

cairnterrier Thu 20-Oct-11 21:37:33

Our second reading at our wedding:

When you hair has turned to winter
and your teeth are in a plate,
when your getter up and go
has gone to stop and wait—
I’ll still be loving you.

When your attributes have shifted
beyond the bounds of grace,
I’ll count your many blessings,
not the wrinkles in your face—
I’ll still be loving you.

When the crackle in your voice
matches that within your knee
and the times are getting frequent
that you don’t remember me—
I’ll still be loving you.

Growing old is not a sin,
it’s something we all do.
I hope you’ll always understand—I’ll still be loving you.

C. David Hay

From a Railway Carriage by R.L. Stevenson. My mum used to tell it to me when we were on the train: DS recently went for his first train ride and I told it to him in turn.........

FASTER than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle,
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain 5
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.

Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles; 10
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And there is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart run away in the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill and there is a river: 15
Each a glimpse and gone for ever!

spaqueen Thu 20-Oct-11 21:39:45

Yup. Got me again.


cartimandua Thu 20-Oct-11 21:48:55

Great thread! This one has stayed with me for years - by Ezra Pound.

The clouds have gathered, and gathered,
and the rain falls and falls,
The eight ply of the heavens
are all folded into one darkness,
And the wide, flat road stretches out.
I stop in my room toward the East, quiet, quiet,
I pat my new cask of wine.
My friends are estranged, or far distant,
I bow my head and stand still.

Rain, rain, and the clouds have gathered,
The eight ply of the heavens are darkness,
The flat land is turned into river.
'Wine, wine, here is wine!'
I drink by my eastern window.
I think of talking and man,
And no boat, no carriage, approaches.

The trees in my east-looking garden
are bursting out with new twigs,
They try to stir new affection,
And men say the sun and moon keep on moving
because they can't find a soft seat.
The birds flutter to rest in my tree,
and I think I have heard them saying,
'It is not that there are no other men
But we like this fellow the best,
But however we long to speak
He can not know of our sorrow.'

Whitewell Thu 20-Oct-11 21:50:13

Many of my favourites have already been posted, (Beattie is three), but here are two for parents...

Those Winter Sundays
Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?

Kate Clanchy

Now I sit my child on the jut
of my hip, and take
his weight with the curve
of my waist, like a tree
split at the fork,
like lovers leaning out of a waltz.

Nothing is lost. I was never
one of those girls
stood slim as a sapling.
I was often alone at the dance.

collegedropout Thu 20-Oct-11 21:55:07

This has been a favourite of mine since I was a teenager

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree, W.B Yeats

mumzy Thu 20-Oct-11 22:01:07

I learnt this poem in primary school and whenever life is mad I recite it to calm myself down and get some perspective:


William Henry Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

mumofthreekids Thu 20-Oct-11 22:01:27

Thank you everyone who has contributed to this lovely thread.

This one is Stevie Smith

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

lifechanger Thu 20-Oct-11 22:05:34

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone's poems, thank you.

BestIsWest Thu 20-Oct-11 22:08:47

Only came across this recently when DD did it for A level. I love the descriptiveness of it

On the death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes"

'Twas on a lofty vase's side,
Where China's gayest art had dyed
The azure flowers that blow,
Demurest of the tabby kind,
The pensive Selima, reclined,
Gazed on the lake below.

Her conscious tail her joy declared;
The fair round face, the snowy beard,
The velvet of her paws,
Her coat, that with the tortoise vies,
Her ears of jet, and emerald eyes,
She saw; and purred applause.

Still had she gazed; but 'midst the tide
Two angel forms were seen to glide,
The genii of the stream:
Their scaly armour's Tyrian hue
Through richest purple to the view
Betrayed a golden gleam.

The hapless nymph with wonder saw:
A whisker first, and then a claw,
With many an ardent wish,
She stretched, in vain, to reach the prize.
What female heart can gold despise?
What cat's averse to fish?

Presumptuous maid! with looks intent
Again she stretched, again she bent,
Nor knew the gulf between:
(Malignant Fate sat by, and smiled)
The slippery verge her feet beguiled,
She tumbled headlong in.

Eight times emerging from the flood
She mewed to ev'ry wat'ry god
Some speedy aid to send.
No dolphin came, no nereid stirred;
Nor cruel Tom, nor Susan heard.
A fav'rite has no friend!

From hence, ye beauties undeceived,
Know, one false step is ne'er retrieved,
And be with caution bold.
Not all that tempts your wand'ring eyes
And heedless hearts is lawful prize;
Nor all that glisters, gold.

Thomas Gray (1717-1771)

This is a fab thread.

Here's some more.

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of they friends`s or of thine own were.

Any man`s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

John Donne

You took away all the oceans and all the room.
You gave me my shoe-size in earth with bars around it.
Where did it get you? Nowhere.
You left me my lips, and they shape words, even in silence.

Osip Mandelstam

Her Song

For no other reason than I love him wholly
I am here; for this one night at least
The world has shrunk to a boyish breast
On which my head, brilliant and exhausted, rests,
And can know of nothing more complete.

Let the dawn assemble all its guilts, its worries
And small doubts that, but for love, would infect
This perfect heart.
I am as far beyond doubt as the sun.
I am as far beyond doubt as is possible.

Brian Patten

BuntyPenfold Thu 20-Oct-11 22:20:24

Fear no more the heat o' the sun
Nor the furious winter's rages
Thou thy earthly task has done
Home art gone and ta'en thy wages
Golden lads and girls all must
As chimney sweepers, come to dust.

This one by Simon Armitage makes me smile:

You’re Beautiful

because you’re classically trained.
I’m ugly because I associate piano wire with strangulation.
You’re beautiful because you stop to read the cards in newsagents’ windows about lost cats and missing dogs.
I’m ugly because of what 1 did to that jellyfish with a lolly-stick and a big stone
You’re beautiful because for you, politeness is instinctive, not a marketing campaign
I’m ugly because desperation is impossible to hide.

Ugly like he is,
Beautiful like hers,
Beautiful like Venus,
Ugly like his,
Beautiful like she is,
Ugly like Mars.

You’re beautiful because you believe in coincidence and the power of thought.
I’m ugly because I proved God to be a mathematical impossibility
You’re beautiful because you prefer home-made soup to the packet stuff.
I’m ugly because once, at a dinner party, I defended the aristocracy and wasn’t even drunk.
You’re beautiful because you can’t work the remote control.
I’m ugly because of satellite television and twenty-four hour rolling news.

Ugly like he is,
Beautiful like hers,
Beautiful like Venus,
Ugly like his,
Beautiful like she is,
Ugly like Mars.

You’re beautiful because you cry at weddings as well as funerals.
I’m ugly because I think .of children as another species from a different world.
You’re beautiful because you look great in any colour including red.
I’m ugly because I think shopping is strictly for the acquisition of material goods.
You’re beautiful because when you were born, undiscovered planets lined up to peep over the rim of your cradle and lay gifts of gravity and light at your miniature feet.
I’m ugly for saying ‘love at first sight’ is another form of mistaken identity and that the most human of all responses is to gloat.

Ugly like he is,
Beautiful like hers,
Beautiful like Venus,
Ugly like his,
Beautiful like she is,
Ugly like Mars.

You’re beautiful because you’ve never seen the inside of a car-wash,
I’m ugly because I always ask for a receipt.
You’re beautiful for sending a box of shoes to the third world.
I’m ugly because I remember the telephone numbers of ex-girlfriends and the year Schubert was born.
You’re beautiful because you sponsored a parrot in a zoo.
I’m ugly because when I sigh it’s like the slow collapse of a circus tent.

Ugly like he is,
Beautiful like hers,
Beautiful like Venus,
Ugly like his,
Beautiful like she is,
Ugly like Mars.

You’re beautiful because you can point at a man in a uniform and laugh.
I’m ugly because I was a police informer in a previous life.
You’re beautiful because you drink a litre of water and eat three pieces of fruit a day.
I’m ugly for taking the line that a meal without meat is a beautiful woman with one eye.
You’re beautiful because you don’t see love as a competition and you know how to lose.
I’m ugly because I kissed the FA Cup then held it up to the crowd.

You’re beautiful because of a single buttercup in the top buttonhole of your cardigan.
I’m ugly because I said the World’s Strongest Woman was a muscleman in a dress.
You’re beautiful because you couldn’t live in a lighthouse.
I’m ugly for making hand-shadows in front of the giant bulb, so when they look up, the captains of vessels in distress see the ears of a rabbit, or the eye of a fox, or the legs of a galloping black horse.

Ugly like he is,
Beautiful like hers,
Beautiful like Venus,
Ugly like his,
Beautiful like she is,
Ugly like Mars.

Ugly like he is,
Beautiful like hers,
Beautiful like Venus,
Ugly like his,
Beautiful like she is,
Ugly like Mars.

SpawnChorus Thu 20-Oct-11 22:23:53

Babies Don’t Keep
by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo

The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

Smerch Thu 20-Oct-11 22:28:12

Dirge Without Music

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, --- but the best is lost.

The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Joolyjoolyjoo Thu 20-Oct-11 22:36:43

Love this thread- so many of my own favourites on here! But this is one of my all-time favourites, love the images and it makes me shiver.

A Case Of Murder

They should not have left him there alone,
Alone that is except for the cat.
He was only nine, not old enough
To be left alone in a basement flat,
Alone, that is, except for the cat.
A dog would have been a different thing,
A big gruff dog with slashing jaws,
But a cat with round eyes mad as gold,
Plump as a cushion with tucked-in paws---
Better have left him with a fair-sized rat!
But what they did was leave him with a cat.
He hated that cat; he watched it sit,
A buzzing machine of soft black stuff,
He sat and watched and he hated it,
Snug in its fur, hot blood in a muff,
And its mad gold stare and the way it sat
Crooning dark warmth: he loathed all that.
So he took Daddy's stick and he hit the cat.
Then quick as a sudden crack in glass
It hissed, black flash, to a hiding place
In the dust and dark beneath the couch,
And he followed the grin on his new-made face,
A wide-eyed, frightened snarl of a grin,
And he took the stick and he thrust it in,
Hard and quick in the furry dark.
The black fur squealed and he felt his skin
Prickle with sparks of dry delight.
Then the cat again came into sight,
Shot for the door that wasn't quite shut,
But the boy, quick too, slammed fast the door:
The cat, half-through, was cracked like a nut
And the soft black thud was dumped on the floor.
Then the boy was suddenly terrified
And he bit his knuckles and cried and cried;
But he had to do something with the dead thing there.
His eyes squeezed beads of salty prayer
But the wound of fear gaped wide and raw;
He dared not touch the thing with his hands
So he fetched a spade and shovelled it
And dumped the load of heavy fur
In the spidery cupboard under the stair
Where it's been for years, and though it died
It's grown in that cupboard and its hot low purr
Grows slowly louder year by year:
There'll not be a corner for the boy to hide
When the cupboard swells and all sides split
And the huge black cat pads out of it.

SuePurblybiltFromBitsofCorpses Thu 20-Oct-11 22:40:40

<shudders> I remember reading that cat one at school (what were they thinking grin?)

Luffly Rupert Brooke:

I HAVE been so great a lover: filled my days
So proudly with the splendour of Love's praise,
The pain, the calm, and the astonishment,
Desire illimitable, and still content,
And all dear names men use, to cheat despair, 5
For the perplexed and viewless streams that bear
Our hearts at random down the dark of life.
Now, ere the unthinking silence on that strife
Steals down, I would cheat drowsy Death so far,
My night shall be remembered for a star 10
That outshone all the suns of all men's days.
Shall I not crown them with immortal praise
Whom I have loved, who have given me, dared with me
High secrets, and in darkness knelt to see
The inenarrable godhead of delight? 15
Love is a flame;—we have beaconed the world's night.
A city:—and we have built it, these and I.
An emperor:—we have taught the world to die.
So, for their sakes I loved, ere I go hence,
And the high cause of Love's magnificence, 20
And to keep loyalties young, I'll write those names
Golden for ever, eagles, crying flames,
And set them as a banner, that men may know,
To dare the generations, burn, and blow
Out on the wind of Time, shining and streaming....

These I have loved:
White plates and cups, clean-gleaming,
Ringed with blue lines; and feathery, faery dust;
Wet roofs, beneath the lamp-light; the strong crust
Of friendly bread; and many-tasting food; 30
Rainbows; and the blue bitter smoke of wood;
And radiant raindrops couching in cool flowers;
And flowers themselves, that sway through sunny hours,
Dreaming of moths that drink them under the moon;
Then, the cool kindliness of sheets, that soon 35
Smooth away trouble; and the rough male kiss
Of blankets; grainy wood; live hair that is
Shining and free; blue-massing clouds; the keen
Unpassioned beauty of a great machine;
The benison of hot water; furs to touch; 40
The good smell of old clothes; and other such—
The comfortable smell of friendly fingers,
Hair's fragrance, and the musty reek that lingers
About dead leaves and last year's ferns....
Dear names,
And thousand others throng to me! Royal flames; 45
Sweet water's dimpling laugh from tap or spring;
Holes in the ground; and voices that do sing:
Voices in laughter, too; and body's pain,
Soon turned to peace; and the deep-panting train;
Firm sands; the little dulling edge of foam 50
That browns and dwindles as the wave goes home;
And washen stones, gay for an hour; the cold
Graveness of iron; moist black earthen mould;
Sleep; and high places; footprints in the dew;
And oaks; and brown horse-chestnuts, glossy-new; 55
And new-peeled sticks; and shining pools on grass;—
All these have been my loves. And these shall pass.
Whatever passes not, in the great hour,
Nor all my passion, all my prayers, have power
To hold them with me through the gate of Death. 60
They'll play deserter, turn with the traitor breath,
Break the high bond we made, and sell Love's trust
And sacramented covenant to the dust.
—Oh, never a doubt but, somewhere, I shall wake,
And give what's left of love again, and make 65
New friends, now strangers....
But the best I've known,
Stays here, and changes, breaks, grows old, is blown
About the winds of the world, and fades from brains
Of living men, and dies.
Nothing remains.

O dear my loves, O faithless, once again 70
This one last gift I give: that after men
Shall know, and later lovers, far-removed
Praise you, "All these were lovely"; say, "He loved."

AblativeAbsolute Thu 20-Oct-11 22:42:34

What a wonderful thread. I'm so pleased I'm not the only one to love 'For a Five Year Old' - it gets me every time.

Two contributions from me: the first for my husband (even though it's written to a woman!):

The things about you I appreciate
May seem indelicate:
I'd like to find you in the shower
And chase the soap for half an hour.
I'd like to have you in my power
And see your eyes dilate.
I'd like to have your back to scour
And other parts to lubricate.
Sometimes I feel it is my fate
To chase you screaming up a tower
Or make you cower
By asking you to differentiate
Nietzsche from Schopenhauer.
I'd like successfully to guess your weight
And win you at a fete.
I'd like to offer you a flower.

I like the hair upon your shoulders,
Falling like water over boulders.
I like the shoulders, too: they are essential.
Your collar-bones have great potential
(I'd like all your particulars in folders
Marked Confidential).

I like your cheeks, I like your nose,
I like the way your lips disclose
The neat arrangement of your teeth
(Half above and half beneath)
In rows.

I like your eyes, I like their fringes.
The way they focus on me gives me twinges.
Your upper arms drive me berserk.
I like the way your elbows work,
On hinges.

I like your wrists, I like your glands,
I like the fingers on your hands.
I'd like to teach them how to count,
And certain things we might exchange,
Something familiar for something strange.
I'd like to give you just the right amount
And get some change.

I like it when you tilt your cheek up.
I like the way you nod and hold a teacup.
I like your legs when you unwind them.
Even in trousers I don't mind them.
I like each softly-moulded kneecap.
I like the little crease behind them.
I'd always know, without recap,
Where to find them.

I like the sculpture of your ears.
I like the way your profile disappears
Whenever you decide to turn and face me.
I'd like to cross two hemispheres
And have you chase me.
I'd like to smuggle you across frontiers
Or sail with you at night into Tangiers.
I'd like you to embrace me.

I'd like to see you ironing your skirt
And cancelling other dates.
I'd like to button up your shirt.
I like the way your chest inflates.
I'd like to soothe you when you're hurt
Or frightened senseless by invertebrates.

I'd like you even if you were malign
And had a yen for sudden homicide.
I'd let you put insecticide
Into my wine.
I'd even like you if you were the Bride
Of Frankenstein
Or something ghoulish out of Mamoulian's
Jekyll and Hyde.
I'd even like you as my Julian
Of Norwich or Cathleen ni Houlihan.
How melodramatic
If you were something muttering in attics
Like Mrs Rochester or a student of Boolean

You are the end of self-abuse.
You are the eternal feminine.
I'd like to find a good excuse
To call on you and find you in.
I'd like to put my hand beneath your chin,
And see you grin.
I'd like to taste your Charlotte Russe,
I'd like to feel my lips upon your skin,
I'd like to make you reproduce.

I'd like you in my confidence.
I'd like to be your second look.
I'd like to let you try the French Defence
And mate you with my rook.
I'd like to be your preference
And hence
I'd like to be around when you unhook.
I'd like to be your only audience,
The final name in your appointment book,
Your future tense.

AblativeAbsolute Thu 20-Oct-11 22:45:48

The second for my sons. Nobody captures the inner monologue of little boys like AA Milne:

Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on the little hands little gold head.
Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.

God bless Mummy. I know that's right.
Wasn't it fun in the bath to-night?
The cold's so cold, and the hot's so hot.
Oh! God bless Daddy - I quite forgot.

If I open my fingers a little bit more,
I can see Nanny's dressing-gown on the door.
It's a beautiful blue, but it hasn't a hood.
Oh! God bless Nanny and make her good.

Mine has a hood, and I lie in bed,
And pull the hood right over my head,
And I shut my eyes, and I curl up small,
And nobody knows that I'm there at all.

Oh! Thank you, God, for a lovely day.
And what was the other I had to say?
I said "Bless Daddy," so what can it be?
Oh! Now I remember it. God bless Me.

Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on the little hands little gold head.
Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.

peeriebear Thu 20-Oct-11 22:49:46

With Rue My Heart Is Laden by A E Housman

With rue my heart is laden
For golden friends I had
For many a rose-lipt maiden
And many a lightfoot lad
By brooks too broad for leaping
The lightfoot boys are laid
The rose-lipt girls are sleeping
In fields where roses fade

WeepsInPaleDew Thu 20-Oct-11 22:54:51

Back from work and my first thought was to catch up with this lovely thread.

<sighs with happiness>

jooly the cat poem made the hairs on my neck prickle! grin

peeriebear Thu 20-Oct-11 22:54:55

Thank you Joolyjoo for the cat one! My brother studied it at primary school and read it to me when I was about seven or eight. The line "The cat, half through, was cracked like a nut" is seared into my brain and I even spoke it aloud a couple of weeks ago when the cat nipped in the rapidly closing gap of the heavy back door!

Mmmnotsure Thu 20-Oct-11 23:08:00

Alice - Your 'easing the spring' one from Naming of Parts by Henry Reed:


To Alan Michell

Vixi duellis nuper idoneus
Et militavi non sine gloria


To-day we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And to-morrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But to-day,
To-day we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens,
And to-day we have naming of parts.

This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in our case we have not got.

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
Any of them using their finger.

And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
They call it easing the Spring.

They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, and the cocking-piece, and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got; and the almond-blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
For to-day we have naming of parts.

Kingsroadie Thu 20-Oct-11 23:12:24

I love Funeral Blues and in fact most Auden - he is one of my favourite poets.

I also like Sonnet 116 by good old Will S:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved


Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! -- An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime. --
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, --
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen, who was killed in action a week before the end of the War. Haunting.

BerryPie Thu 20-Oct-11 23:14:39

This one, by William Carlos Williams, has stuck in my mind for some reason.

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

nogoodusernamesleft Thu 20-Oct-11 23:19:51

pink that made me weep. sad

I don't often 'get' poetry, so when one touches me I'm always really surprised! This one is on the wall of our GP surgery (was written to celebrate the NHS) and I showed it to DS2 (10) a few days ago - he said the last line made him feel sad - I knew exactly what he meant.

These are the hands - Michael Rosen

These are the hands
That touch us first
Feel your head
Find the pulse
And make your bed.
These are the hands
That tap your back
Test the skin
Hold your arm
Wheel the bin
Change the bulb
Fix the drip
Pour the jug
Replace your hip.
These are the hands
That fill the bath
Mop the floor
Flick the switch
Soothe the sore
Burn the swabs
Give us a jab
Throw out sharps
Design the lab.
And these are the hands
That stop the leaks
Empty the pan
Wipe the pipes
Carry the can
Clamp the veins
Make the cast
Log the dose
And touch us last.

BerryPie Thu 20-Oct-11 23:25:12

My favourite poet is definitely Elizabeth Bishop. Try this one, best read out loud:

One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

DumSpiroScaro Thu 20-Oct-11 23:48:29

Strawberries by Edwin Morgan

There were never strawberries
like the ones we had
that sultry afternoon
sitting on the step
of the open french window
facing each other
your knees held in mine
the blue plates in our laps
the strawberries glistening
in the hot sunlight
we dipped them in sugar
looking at each other
not hurrying the feast
for one to come
the empty plates
laid on the stone together
with the two forks crossed
and I bent towards you
sweet in that air
in my arms
abandoned like a child
from your eager mouth
the taste of strawberries
in my memory
lean back again
let me love you

let the sun beat
on our forgetfulness
one hour of all
the heat intense
and summer lightning
on the Kilpatrick hills

let the storm wash the plates

Idontknowhowtohelpher Thu 20-Oct-11 23:48:48

If You'll Just Go to Sleep
by Gabriel Mistral

The blood red rose
I gathered yesterday,
and the fire and cinnamon
of the carnation,

Bread baked with
anise seed and honey,
and a fish in a bowl
that makes a glow:

All this is yours,
baby born of woman,
if you'll just
go to sleep.

A rose, I say!
I say a carnation!
Fruit, I say!
And I say honey!

A fish that glitters!
And more, I say -
If you will only
sleep till day.

ComeIntoTheSinisterGardenMaud Thu 20-Oct-11 23:49:17

With apologies if this has already been posted

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne'er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.
Not one of all the purple host
Who took the flag to-day
Can tell the definition,
So clear, of victory!

As he, defeated, dying,
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!

Emily Dickinson

DumSpiroScaro Thu 20-Oct-11 23:53:00

Ablative - I love that one. smile

And these:

At Lunchtime by Roger McGough

My True Love Hath My Heart

And pretty much anything by Wendy Cope.

TipOfTheSlung Thu 20-Oct-11 23:57:36

Othe rOwen ones have been mentioned but not I think this one which is my favourite of the wa poems

Move him into the sun
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it awoke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.
Think how it wakes the seeds
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs so dear-achieved, are sides
Full-nerved, still warm,too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth's sleep at all?

PercyFilth Thu 20-Oct-11 23:58:23

Diary of a Church Mouse by John Betjeman

Here among long-discarded cassocks,
Damp stools, and half-split open hassocks,
Here where the Vicar never looks
I nibble through old service books.
Lean and alone I spend my days
Behind this Church of England baize.
I share my dark forgotten room
With two oil-lamps and half a broom.
The cleaner never bothers me,
So here I eat my frugal tea.
My bread is sawdust mixed with straw;
My jam is polish for the floor.
Christmas and Easter may be feasts
For congregations and for priests,
And so may Whitsun. All the same,
They do not fill my meagre frame.
For me the only feast at all
Is Autumn's Harvest Festival,
When I can satisfy my want
With ears of corn around the font.
I climb the eagle's brazen head
To burrow through a loaf of bread.
I scramble up the pulpit stair
And gnaw the marrows hanging there.
It is enjoyable to taste
These items ere they go to waste,
But how annoying when one finds
That other mice with pagan minds
Come into church my food to share
Who have no proper business there.
Two field mice who have no desire
To be baptized, invade the choir.
A large and most unfriendly rat
Comes in to see what we are at.
He says he thinks there is no God
And yet he's rather odd.
This year he stole a sheaf of wheat
(It screened our special preacher's seat),
And prosperous mice from fields away
Come in to hear the organ play,
And under cover of its notes
Ate through the altar's sheaf of oats.
A Low Church mouse, who thinks that I
Am too papistical, and High,
Yet somehow doesn't think it wrong
To munch through Harvest Evensong,
While I, who starve the whole year through,
Must share my food with rodents who
Except at this time of the year
Not once inside the church appear.
Within the human world I know
Such goings-on could not be so,
For human beings only do
What their religion tells them to.
They read the Bible every day
And always, night and morning, pray,
And just like me, the good church mouse,
Worship each week in God's own house,
But all the same it's strange to me
How very full the church can be
With people I don't see at all
Except at Harvest Festival.

ComeIntoTheSinisterGardenMaud Thu 20-Oct-11 23:59:01

I wanted to post William Carlos Williams' I have eaten the plums, so instead, marrying my love of Emily Dickinson and Wendy Cope there is this -

Emily Dickinson
Liked to use dashes
Instead of full stops.

Nowadays, faced with such
Critics and editors
Send for the cops.

PercyFilth Fri 21-Oct-11 00:00:04

And another ecclesiastical one from Sir John, this one perhaps not so well-known

by John Betjeman

Alternately the fogs and rains
Fill up the dim November lanes,
The Church’s year is nearly done
And waiting Advent not begun
Our congregations shrink and shrink,
We sneeze so much we cannot think
We blow our noses through the prayers,
And coughing takes us unawares;
We think of funerals and shrouds,
Our breath comes out in steamy clouds
Because the heating, we are told,
Will not be used until it’s cold.
With aching limbs and throbbing head
We wish we were at home in bed.
Oh! Brave November congregation
Accept these lines of commendation;
You are the Church’s prop and wall,
You keep it standing for us all!
And now I’ll turn to things more bright,
I’ll talk about electric light.
Last year when Mr Sidney Groves
Said he’d no longer do the stoves
It gave the chance to Mrs Camps
To say she would not do the lamps,
And that gave everyone the chance
To cry “Well, let us have a dance!”
And so we did, we danced and danced
Until our funds were so advanced
That, helped by jumble sales and whist,
We felt that we could now insist
So healthy was the cash position
On calling in the electrician
We called him in and now, behold,
Our church is overlit and cold.
We have two hundred more to pay
Or go to gaol next Quarter Day.
Despite the most impressive prices
Of our electrical devices,
And though the Bishop blessed the switches
Which now deface two ancient niches,
We do not like the electric light,
It’s far too hard and bare and bright,
As for the heat, the bills are hot.
Unluckily the heating’s not.
They fell’d our elms to bring the wire,
They clamped their brackets on the spire
So that the church, one has to own,
Seems to be on the telephone.
Inside, they used our timbered roof,
Five centuries old and weather proof,
For part of their floodlighting scheme,
With surgical basins on each beam.
And if the bulbs in them should fuse
Or burst in fragments on the pews,
The longest ladder we possess
Would not reach up to mend the mess.
Talking of messes – you should see
The Electrician’s artistry,
His Clapham-Junction-like creation
Of pipes and wires and insulation
Of meters, boxes, tubes and all
Upon our ancient painted wall.
If Sidney Groves and Mrs Camps
Had only done the stoves and lamps
These shameful things we would not see
Which rob our church of mystery.

TipOfTheSlung Fri 21-Oct-11 00:00:05

and my two other favourite poems
Brownings from Pippa passes

The year's at the spring
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hillside's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn:
God's in His heaven—
All's right with the world!

which we had at out wedding

and Wordsworths

The Solitary Reaper

Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.

Will no one tell me what she sings?--
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?

Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o'er the sickle bending;--
I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.

Joolyjoolyjoo Fri 21-Oct-11 00:03:10

I agree re Futility being one of Wilfred Owen's most wrenching war poems, TipOfTheSlung. sad

shagmundfreud Fri 21-Oct-11 00:07:52

I hopes someone reads this poem and is comforted by it:

Bjorn Olinder's Pictures

I have learned about dying by looking at two pictures
Bjorn Olinder needed to look at when he was dying:
A girl whose features are obscured by the fall of her hair
Planting a flower,
and a seascape: beyond the headland
A glimpse of immaculate sand that awaits our footprints.

By Michael Longley

shagmundfreud Fri 21-Oct-11 00:11:53

So love the 'If you'll just go to sleep poem'. Also one of my long time favourites!

Sorry - have to post another poem about death:

Death's Secret

It is not true
that death begins after life.
When life stops
death also stops.

by Gosta Agren

So happy to see many poetry lovers here smile

mamandeouisti Fri 21-Oct-11 00:28:08

Oh, crikey that's it. Having given up on my attempt to lighten the mood with my mid-packing has gone and done it...I'm blubbing and have decided to wallow after all. Thank you everyone for your very moving choices and OP, I think this is a great thread.

FunkyChicken Fri 21-Oct-11 01:59:59

The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes - read aloud for best effect - older DCs may like too, especialy like if you add a bit of dramatic effect! (sorry its a bit long but its great!)

The wind was a torrent of darkness upon the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight looping the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding--
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn door.

He'd a French cocked hat on his forehead, and a bunch of lace at his chin;
He'd a coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of fine doe-skin.
They fitted with never a wrinkle; his boots were up to his thigh!
And he rode with a jeweled twinkle--
His rapier hilt a-twinkle--
His pistol butts a-twinkle, under the jeweled sky.

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred,
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter--
Bess, the landlord's daughter--
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

Dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim, the ostler listened--his face was white and peaked--
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,
But he loved the landlord's daughter--
The landlord's black-eyed daughter;
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say:

"One kiss, my bonny sweetheart; I'm after a prize tonight,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light.
Yet if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way."

He stood upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair in the casement! His face burnt like a brand
As the sweet black waves of perfume came tumbling o'er his breast,
Then he kissed its waves in the moonlight
(O sweet black waves in the moonlight!),
And he tugged at his reins in the moonlight, and galloped away to the west.

He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon.
And out of the tawny sunset, before the rise of the moon,
When the road was a gypsy's ribbon over the purple moor,
The redcoat troops came marching--
King George's men came marching, up to the old inn-door.

They said no word to the landlord; they drank his ale instead,
But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed.
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets by their side;
There was Death at every window,
And Hell at one dark window,
For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.

They had bound her up at attention, with many a sniggering jest!
They had tied a rifle beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast!
"Now keep good watch!" and they kissed her. She heard the dead man say,
"Look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though Hell should bar the way."

She twisted her hands behind her, but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years,
Till, on the stroke of midnight,
Cold on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!

The tip of one finger touched it, she strove no more for the rest;
Up, she stood up at attention, with the barrel beneath her breast.
She would not risk their hearing, she would not strive again,
For the road lay bare in the moonlight,
Blank and bare in the moonlight,
And the blood in her veins, in the moonlight, throbbed to her love's refrain.

Tlot tlot, tlot tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hooves, ringing clear;
Tlot tlot, tlot tlot, in the distance! Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding--
The redcoats looked to their priming! She stood up straight and still.

Tlot tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!
Her eyes grew wide for a moment, she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight--
Her musket shattered the moonlight--
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him--with her death.

He turned, he spurred to the West; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o'er the casement, drenched in her own red blood!
Not till the dawn did he hear it, and his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord's daughter,
The landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs in the golden noon, wine-red was his velvet coat
When they shot him down in the highway,
Down like a dog in the highway,
And he lay in his blood in the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.

And still on a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a gypsy's ribbon looping the purple moor,
The highwayman comes riding--
The highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard,
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred,
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter--
Bess, the landlord's daughter--
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

triedandfailed Fri 21-Oct-11 02:56:39

marking the deaths of Henry Allingham and Harry Patch; it has a strong central idea – a war film played backwards:

Last Post Carol Ann Duffy
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If poetry could tell it backwards, true, begin
that moment shrapnel scythed you to the stinking mud . . .
but you get up, amazed, watch bled bad blood
run upwards from the slime into its wounds;
see lines and lines of British boys rewind
back to their trenches, kiss the photographs from home —
mothers, sweethearts, sisters, younger brothers
not entering the story now
to die and die and die.
Dulce — No — Decorum — No — Pro patria mori.
You walk away.
You walk away; drop your gun (fixed bayonet)
like all your mates do too —
Harry, Tommy, Wilfred, Edward, Bert —
and light a cigarette.
There’s coffee in the square,
warm French bread
and all those thousands dead
are shaking dried mud from their hair
and queuing up for home. Freshly alive,
a lad plays Tipperary to the crowd, released
from History; the glistening, healthy horses fit for heroes, kings.
You lean against a wall,
your several million lives still possible
and crammed with love, work, children, talent, English beer, good food.
You see the poet tuck away his pocket-book and smile.
If poetry could truly tell it backwards,
then it would.

whatever117 Fri 21-Oct-11 03:06:01

Dulce est decorum est pro patria mori

mrszimmerman Fri 21-Oct-11 10:11:53

Not Yet My Mother
by Owen Sheers

Yesterday I found a photo
of you at seventeen,
holding a horse and smiling,
not yet my mother.

The tight riding hat hid your hair,
and your legs were still the long shins of a boy's.
You held the horse by the halter,
your hand a fist under its huge jaw.

The blown trees were still in the background
and the sky was grained by the old film stock,
but what caught me was your face,
which was mine.

And I thought, just for a second, that you were me.
But then I saw the woman's jacket,
nipped at the waist, the ballooned jodhpurs,
and of course the date, scratched in the corner.

All of which told me again,
that this was you at seventeen, holding a horse
and smiling, not yet my mother,
although I was clearly already your child.

Kingsroadie Fri 21-Oct-11 10:23:17

DumSpiroScaro - I love that one too - but wasn't sure what is was called/who by so didn't. Will remember now grin

triedandfailed - really like the Last Post - don't think I have read it before.

DivineInspiration Fri 21-Oct-11 11:16:02

This one always makes me well up a little. I don't know why, I don't even particularly like cats. It's just got something so quietly compassionate about it. And the sentiment is so accessible.

A 14-year-old Convalescent Cat in the Winter - Gavin Ewart

I want him to have another living summer,
to lie in the sun and enjoy the douceur de vivre -
because the sun, like golden rum in a rummer,
is what makes an idle cat un tout petit peu ivre –

I want him to lie stretched out, contented,
revelling in the heat, his fur all dry and warm,
an Old Age Pensioner, retired, resented
by no one, and happinesses in a beelike swarm

to settle on him – postponed for another season
that last fated hateful journey to the vet
from which there is no return (and age the reason),
which must soon come – as I cannot forget.


Parting in Wartime - Frances Cornford

How long ago Hector took off his plume,
Not wanting that his little son should cry,
Then kissed his sad Andromache goodbye -
And now we three in Euston waiting-room.

DivineInspiration Fri 21-Oct-11 11:16:49

I'm going to print this thread out, I think, because there are so many poems here I've never come across before or had forgotten that I love so much smile

Onemorning Fri 21-Oct-11 11:36:41

Two more poems I love.

One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

What every woman should carry
by Maura Dooley

My mother gave me the prayer to Saint Theresa.
I added a used tube ticket, kleenex,
several Polo mints (furry), a tampon, pesetas,
a florin. Not wishing to be presumptuous,
not trusting you either, a pack of 3.
I have a pen. There is space for my guardian
angel, she has to fold her wings. Passport.
A key. Anguish, at what I said/didn't say
when once you needed/didn't need me. Anadin.
A credit card. His face the last time,
my impatience, my useless youth.
That empty sack, my heart. A box of matches.

Onemorning Fri 21-Oct-11 11:38:41

Whoops, sorry Berrypie, I didn't notice until now you'd posted One Art.

substantiallycompromised Fri 21-Oct-11 11:53:14

Oooh, too hard having to choose but more miserable Larkin ...


If I were called in
To construct a religion
I should make use of water.

Going to church
Would entail a fording
To dry, different clothes;

My liturgy would employ
Images of sousing,
A furious devout drench,

And I should raise in the east
A glass of water
Where any-angled light
Would congregate endlessly.

From Philip Larkin's The Whitsun Weddings, Faber & Faber Ltd, 1964. Reproduced without permission.

And ...a bit of Shelley (rather appropriate given yesterday's events in Libya)


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away".

substantiallycompromised Fri 21-Oct-11 11:56:11

And two on the "fleetingness" (if that's a word) of childhood. Taken from Mumsnet years ago.

Beattie Is Three

At the top of the stairs
I ask for her hand. O.K.
She gives it to me.
How her first fits my palm,
A bunch of consolation.
We take our time
Down the steep carpetway
As I wish silently
That the stairs were endless.

(Adrian Mitchell)


The angels are stooping
Above your bed;
They weary of trooping
With the whimpering dead.

God's laughing in heaven
To see you so good;
The Shining Seven
Are gay with His mood.

I kiss you and kiss you,
My pigeon, my own;
Ah, how I shall miss you
When you have grown.

BestIsWest Fri 21-Oct-11 11:59:25

I have a CD of Sir John Betjeman reciting his poems to music. It is brilliant, made in the 70's. Does anyone remember the films of poems he made for the BBC. Eric Morecambe as the funny uncle in Indoor Games near Newbury.

So old fashioned now.

In among the silver birches,
Winding ways of tarmac wander
And the signs to Bussock Bottom,
Tussock Wood and Windy Break.
Gabled lodges, tile-hung churches
Catch the lights of our Lagonda
As we drive to Wendy’s party,
Lemon curd and Christmas cake

Rich the makes of motor whirring
Past the pine plantation purring
Come up Hupmobile Delage.
Short the way our chauffeurs travel
Crunching over private gravel,
Each from out his warm garage.

O but Wendy, when the carpet
Yielded to my indoor pumps.
There you stood, your gold hair streaming,
Handsome in the hall light gleaming
There you looked and there you led me
Off into the game of Clumps.

Then the new Victrola playing;
And your funny uncle saying
'Choose your partners for a foxtrot.
Dance until it's tea o'clock
Come on young 'uns, foot it feetly.'
Was it chance that paired us neatly?
I who loved you so completely.
You who pressed me closely to you,
Hard against your party frock.

'Meet me when you've finished eating.'
So we met and no one found us.
O that dark and furry cupboard,
While the rest played hide-and-seek.
Holding hands our two hearts beating.
In the bedroom silence round us
Holding hands and hardly hearing
Sudden footstep, thud and shriek

Love that lay too deep for kissing.
'Where is Wendy? Wendy's missing.'
Love so pure it had to end.
Love so strong that I was frightened
When you gripped my fingers tight.
And hugging, whispered 'I'm your friend.'

Goodbye Wendy. Send the fairies,
Pinewood elf and larch tree gnome.
Spingle-spangled stars are peeping
At the lush Lagonda creeping
Down the winding ways of tarmac
To the leaded lights of home.

There among the silver birches,
All the bells of all the churches
Sounded in the bath-waste running
Out into the frosty air.
Wendy speeded my undressing.
Wendy is the sheet's caressing
Wendy bending gives a blessing.
Holds me as I drift to dreamland
Safe inside my slumber wear

PercyFilth Fri 21-Oct-11 12:06:02

Old-fashioned maybe, but frankly I prefer that to some "poems" which are really prose broken up into random lines.

GreenEyesandNiceHam Fri 21-Oct-11 12:41:03

I Wish I'd Looked After My Teeth
by Pam Ayres
Oh, I wish I'd looked after me teeth,
And spotted the perils beneath,
All the toffees I chewed,
And the sweet sticky food,
Oh, I wish I'd looked after me teeth.

I wish I'd been that much more willin'
When I had more tooth there than fillin'
To pass up gobstoppers,
From respect to me choppers
And to buy something else with me shillin'.

When I think of the lollies I licked,
And the liquorice allsorts I picked,
Sherbet dabs, big and little,
All that hard peanut brittle,
My conscience gets horribly pricked.

My Mother, she told me no end,
"If you got a tooth, you got a friend"
I was young then, and careless,
My toothbrush was hairless,
I never had much time to spend.

Oh I showed them the toothpaste all right,
I flashed it about late at night,
But up-and-down brushin'
And pokin' and fussin'
Didn't seem worth the time... I could bite!

If I'd known I was paving the way,
To cavities, caps and decay,
The murder of fiIlin's
Injections and drillin's
I'd have thrown all me sherbet away.

So I lay in the old dentist's chair,
And I gaze up his nose in despair,
And his drill it do whine,
In these molars of mine,
"Two amalgum," he'll say, "for in there."

How I laughed at my Mother's false teeth,
As they foamed in the waters beneath,
But now comes the reckonin'
It's me they are beckonin'
Oh, I wish I'd looked after me teeth.

Pam Ayres grin

SuePurblybiltFromBitsofCorpses Fri 21-Oct-11 12:51:33

I have that too, Best. Summoned by Bells and another one <cba to look>
His reading of Myfanwy is lovely.

FrizzBath Fri 21-Oct-11 12:51:49

'Demeter' by Carol Ann Duffy

Where I lived - winter and hard earth.
I sat in my cold stone room
choosing tough words, granite, flint,

to break the ice. My broken heart -
I tried that, but it skimmed,
flat, over the frozen lake.

She came from a long, long way,
but I saw her at last, walking,
my daughter, my girl, across the fields,

In bare feet, bringing all spring's flowers
to her mother's house. I swear
the air softened and warmed as she moved,

the blue sky smiling, none too soon,
with the small shy mouth of a new moon.'

TooImmature2BDumbledore Fri 21-Oct-11 13:00:43

To his Coy Mistress

by Andrew Marvell

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day;
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood;
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow.
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long preserv'd virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust.
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may;
And now, like am'rous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapp'd power.
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball;
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

TooImmature2BDumbledore Fri 21-Oct-11 13:02:12

Four Friends, AA Milne

Ernest was an elephant, a great big fellow,
Leonard was a lion with a six foot tail,
George was a goat, and his beard was yellow,
And James was a very small snail.

Leonard had a stall, and a great big strong one,
Earnest had a manger, and its walls were thick,
George found a pen, but I think it was the wrong one,
And James sat down on a brick

Earnest started trumpeting, and cracked his manger,
Leonard started roaring, and shivered his stall,
James gave a huffle of a snail in danger
And nobody heard him at all.

Earnest started trumpeting and raised such a rumpus,
Leonard started roaring and trying to kick,
James went on a journey with the goats new compass
And he reached the end of his brick.

Ernest was an elephant and very well intentioned,
Leonard was a lion with a brave new tail,
George was a goat, as I think I have mentioned,
but James was only a snail.

noneshallsleep2 Fri 21-Oct-11 13:06:59

So hard to pick a favourite poem, but for here it has to be:


Go to sleep, Mum,
I won’t stop breathing
suddenly in the night.

Go to sleep, I won’t
climb out of my cot and
tumble downstairs.

Mum, I won’t swallow
the pills the doctor gave you
or put hairpins in electric
sockets, just go to sleep.

I won’t cry
when you take me to school and leave me:
I’ll be happy with other children
my own age.

Sleep, Mum sleep.
I won’t
fall in the pond, play with matches,
run under a lorry or even consider
sweets from strangers.

No I won’t
give you a lot of lip,
not like some.

I won’t sniff glue,
fail my exams,
get myself/
my girlfriend pregnant.
I’ll work hard and get a steady/
really worthwhile job.
I promise, go to sleep.

I’ll never forget
to drop in/phone/write
and if
I need any milk, I’ll yell.

Rosemary Norman

Flossie69 Fri 21-Oct-11 13:17:17

Mine would be Song by Ted Hughes.................

O lady, when the tipped cup of the moon blessed you
You became soft fire with a cloud's grace;
The difficult stars swam for eyes in your face;
You stood, and your shadow was my place:
You turned, your shadow turned to ice
O my lady.

O lady, when the sea caressed you
You were a marble of foam, but dumb.
When will the stone open its tomb?
When will the waves give over their foam?
You will not die, nor come home,
O my lady.

O lady, when the wind kissed you
You made him music for you were a shaped shell.
I follow the waters and the wind still
Since my heart heard it and all to pieces fell
Which your lovers stole, meaning ill,
O my lady.

O lady, consider when I shall have lost you
The moon's full hands, scattering waste,
The sea's hands, dark from the world's breast,
The world's decay where the wind's hands have passed,
And my head, worn out with love, at rest
In my hands, and my hands full of dust,
O my lady.

substantiallycompromised Fri 21-Oct-11 14:00:33

On reflection HAVE to include this. Another miserable Larkin!!


By Philip Larkin

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

Philip Larkin, “Days” from Collected Poems. Used by permission of The Society of Authors as the Literary Representative of the Estate of Phillip Larkin.

Source: Collected Poems (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2001)

And also love this by Spike Milligan


English Teeth, English Teeth!
Shining in the sun
A part of British heritage
Aye, each and every one.
English Teeth, Happy Teeth!
Always having fun
Clamping down on bits of fish
And sausages half done.
English Teeth! HEROES' Teeth!
Hear them click! and clack!
Let's sing a song of praise to them -
Three Cheers for the Brown Grey and Black.

substantiallycompromised Fri 21-Oct-11 14:02:09

The Pobble Who Has No Toes by Edward Lear

The Pobble who has no toes
Had once as many as we;
When they said, 'Some day you may lose them all;'--
He replied, -- 'Fish fiddle de-dee!'
And his Aunt Jobiska made him drink,
Lavender water tinged with pink,
For she said, 'The World in general knows
There's nothing so good for a Pobble's toes!'


The Pobble who has no toes,
Swam across the Bristol Channel;
But before he set out he wrapped his nose,
In a piece of scarlet flannel.
For his Aunt Jobiska said, 'No harm
'Can come to his toes if his nose is warm;
'And it's perfectly known that a Pobble's toes
'Are safe, -- provided he minds his nose.'


The Pobble swam fast and well
And when boats or ships came near him
He tinkedly-binkledy-winkled a bell
So that all the world could hear him.
And all the Sailors and Admirals cried,
When they saw him nearing the further side,--
'He has gone to fish, for his Aunt Jobiska's
'Runcible Cat with crimson whiskers!'


But before he touched the shore,
The shore of the Bristol Channel,
A sea-green Porpoise carried away
His wrapper of scarlet flannel.
And when he came to observe his feet
Formerly garnished with toes so neat
His face at once became forlorn
On perceiving that all his toes were gone!


And nobody ever knew
From that dark day to the present,
Whoso had taken the Pobble's toes,
In a manner so far from pleasant.
Whether the shrimps or crawfish gray,
Or crafty Mermaids stole them away --
Nobody knew; and nobody knows
How the Pebble was robbed of his twice five toes!


The Pobble who has no toes
Was placed in a friendly Bark,
And they rowed him back, and carried him up,
To his Aunt Jobiska's Park.
And she made him a feast at his earnest wish
Of eggs and buttercups fried with fish;--
And she said,-- 'It's a fact the whole world knows,
'That Pebbles are happier without their toes.'

substantiallycompromised Fri 21-Oct-11 14:03:14

The Dong with a Luminous Nose by Edward Lear

When awful darkness and silence reign
Over the great Gromboolian plain,
Through the long, long wintry nights;--
When the angry breakers roar
As they beat on the rocky shore;--
When Storm-clouds brood on the towering heights
Of the Hills of the Chankly Bore:--

Then, through the vast and gloomy dark,
There moves what seems a fiery spark,
A lonely spark with silvery rays
Piercing the coal-black night,--
A Meteor strange and bright:--
Hither and thither the vision strays,
A single lurid light.

Slowly it wanders,pauses,--creeeps,
Anon it sparkles,--flashes and leaps;
And ever as onward it gleaming goes
A light on the Bong-tree stems it throws.
And those who watch at that midnight hour
From Hall or Terrace, or lofty Tower,
Cry, as the wild light passes along,--
'The Dong!--the Dong!
'The wandering Dong through the forest goes!
'The Dong! the Dong!
'The Dong with a luminous Nose!'

Long years ago
The Dong was happy and gay,
Till he fell in love with a Jumbly Girl
Who came to those shores one day,
For the Jumblies came in a sieve, they did,--
Landing at eve near the Zemmery Fidd
Where the Oblong Oysters grow,
And the rocks are smooth and gray.
And all the woods and the valleys rang
With the Chorus they daily and nightly sang,--
'Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue
And they went to sea in a sieve.'

Happily, happily passed those days!
While the cheerful Jumblies staid;
They danced in circlets all night long,
To the plaintive pipe of the lively Dong,
In moonlight, shine, or shade.
For day and night he was always there
By the side of the Jumbly Girl so fair,
With her sky-blue hands, and her sea-green hair.
Till the morning came of that hateful day
When the Jumblies sailed in their sieve away,
And the Dong was left on the cruel shore
Gazing--gazing for evermore,--
Ever keeping his weary eyes on
That pea-green sail on the far horizon,--
Singing the Jumbly Chorus still
As he sate all day on the grassy hill,--
'Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue
And they went to sea in a sieve.'

But when the sun was low in the West,
The Dong arose and said;--
--'What little sense I once possessed
'Has quite gone out of my head!'--
And since that day he wanders still
By lake or forest, marsh and hill,
Singing--'O somewhere, in valley or plain
'Might I find my Jumbly Girl again!
'For ever I'll seek by lake and shore
'Till I find my Jumbly Girl once more!'

Playing a pipe with silvery squeaks,
Since then his Jumbly Girl he seeks,
And because by night he could not see,
He gathered the bark of the Twangum Tree
On the flowery plain that grows.
And he wove him a wondrous Nose,--
A Nose as strange as a Nose could be!
Of vast proportions and painted red,
And tied with cords to the back of his head.
--In a hollow rounded space it ended
With a luminous Lamp within suspended,
All fenced about
With a bandage stout
To prevent the wind from blowing it out;--
And with holes all round to send the light,
In gleaming rays on the dismal night.

And now each night, and all night long,
Over those plains still roams the Dong;
And above the wall of the Chimp and Snipe
You may hear the sqeak of his plaintive pipe
While ever he seeks, but seeks in vain
To meet with his Jumbly Girl again;
Lonely and wild--all night he goes,--
The Dong with a luminous Nose!
And all who watch at the midnight hour,
From Hall or Terrace, or lofty Tower,
Cry, as they trace the Meteor bright,
Moving along through the dreary night,--
'This is the hour when forth he goes,
'The Dong with a luminous Nose!
'Yonder--over the plain he goes,
'He goes!
'He goes;
'The Dong with a luminous Nose!'

substantiallycompromised Fri 21-Oct-11 14:03:38

stepping away from the screen now ...

notevenamOoOooOoooosie Fri 21-Oct-11 14:18:01

Have laughed and cried at this thread, thank you.
Just wanted to add:

Not all things go wrong…and knowing
This, be wary of despair,
As you go through hell-keep going,
Make no brave Oasis there.

Through the shadow lands of grieving,
Past the giants, Doubt and Fear,
Heartsick, stunned, and half believing-
Heed no whisper in your ear.

Not all things go wrong-and after
Winter’s famine comes the spring,
Kindness, beauty, children’s laughter-
Joy is ever on the wing.

Felix Dennis

thefirstMrsDeVeerie Fri 21-Oct-11 15:30:29

Here is another. I am sorry but I really only get these sort of poems now. I have never really been into poetry and dont like mawkish stuff but I have found some beautiful ones on grief.

Fly, fly little wing

Fly beyond imagining

The softest cloud, the whitest dove

Upon the wind of heaven’s love

Past the planets and the stars

Leave this lonely world of ours

Escape the sorrow and the pain

And fly again.

Fly, fly precious one

Your endless journey has begun

Take your gentle happiness

Far too beautiful for this

Cross over to the other shore

There is peace forevermore

But hold this memory bittersweet

Until we meet

Fly, fly do not fear

Don’t waste a breath, don’t shed a tear

Your heart is pure, your soul is free

Be on your way, don’t wait for me

Above the universe you’ll climb

On beyond the hands of time

The moon will rise, the sun will set

But I won’t forget.

Fly, fly little wing

Fly where only angels sing

Fly away, the time is right

Go now, find the light.(unknown)

When my DD was dying I used to tell her fly away. It was like being in some sort of B movie. I wanted her to go when she was ready. Like a butterfly.
Little wing.

thefirstMrsDeVeerie Fri 21-Oct-11 15:31:59

Her is another.

I feel as though my heart must stop with pain.

I miss you so, the darkness will not pale.

My darling child, come to me again.

I know you cannot come, and still I strain

To put my arms around you through the veil.

I feel as though my heart must stop with pain.

Other lives and loves call me in vain.

I try to turn away from you and fail.

My darling child, come to me again.

You are my unendurable refrain.

Back and back I hurry to impale

My heart on you, to stop my heart with pain.

Yet nothing that I do undoes the plain

Brutal fact which always must prevail.

Ah, my darling, come to me again!

You are both my sunshine and my rain,

My dearest joy, my anguish, and my grail.

I feel as though my heart must stop with pain.

My darling child, come to me again.

thefirstMrsDeVeerie Fri 21-Oct-11 15:33:08

And one more for now.

I miss your laughter, fun, and gentleness.

I miss the things I used to do for you.

I miss the time, now filled with emptiness,

When each day was a stage for something new.

I miss your love, though mine for you remains,

A passion with no outlet to the sea,

A teardrop in a desert, that contains

What's left of my maternal ecstasy.

I miss your presence, like a silent chord

That anchored even solitude in grace.

I miss, for my love's labor, the reward

Of seeing some small pleasure in your face.

All these I miss, and yet they are all here

Within my heart, far more than I can bear.

Feel free to add some jolly ones to even the thread back up smile

BestIsWest Fri 21-Oct-11 15:43:23

MrsDeVere Now I really am in floods sad

SuePurblybiltFromBitsofCorpses Fri 21-Oct-11 15:44:14

Mrs DV sad. Beautiful.

oh MrsDV...oh. Beautiful though. Very sad.

I came back to this thread because I wanted to ask all you poetry loving people if you knew a poem I did at school. I can remember very little about it but it was about remembrance Sunday at school, there was a line about fog or mist...not much help I know but if anyone recognises it let me know!

BestIsWest Fri 21-Oct-11 15:50:51

A nice one from the late , lamented Adrian Mitchell

‘They tuck you up, your mum and dad,
They read you Peter Rabbit, too.
They give you all the treats they had
And add some extra, just for you.

They were tucked up when they were small,
(Pink perfume, blue tobacco-smoke),
By those whose kiss healed any fall,
Whose laughter doubled any joke.

Man hands on happiness to man,
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
So love your parents all you can
And have some cheerful kids yourself.

dangalf Fri 21-Oct-11 17:04:50

Wow - lump in my throat and tears in my eyes from this thread.
This is my favourite - destroys me every time

The Voice - T Hardy

WOMAN much missed, how you call to me, call to me,
Saying that now you are not as you were
When you had changed from the one who was all to me,
But as at first, when our day was fair.

Can it be you that I hear? Let me view you, then,
Standing as when I drew near to the town
Where you would wait for me: yes, as I knew you then,
Even to the original air-blue gown!

Or is it only the breeze, in its listlessness
Travelling across the wet mead to me here,
You being ever consigned to existlessness,
Heard no more again far or near?

Thus I; faltering forward,
Leaves around me falling,
Wind oozing thin through the thorn from norward
And the woman calling.

Would also recommend A Scattering by C Reid - another one about grief that won a prize a coulpe of years ago.

Yama Fri 21-Oct-11 18:24:13

THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN by Robert Burns 1792

While Europe's eye is fix'd on mighty things,
The fate of Empires and the fall of Kings;
While quacks of State must each produce his plan,
And even children lisp the Rights of Man;
Amid this mighty fuss just let me mention,
The Rights of Woman merit some attention.

First, in the Sexes' intermix'd connection,
One sacred Right of Woman is, protection.
The tender flower that lifts its head, elate,
Helpless, must fall before the blasts of Fate,
Sunk on the earth, defac'd its lovely form,
Unless your shelter ward th' impending storm.

Our second Right - but needless here is caution,
To keep that right inviolate's the fashion;
Each man of sense has it so full before him,
He'd die before he'd wrong it - 'tis decorum.
There was, indeed, in far less polish'd days,
A time, when rough rude man had naughty ways,
Would swagger, swear, get drunk, kick up a riot,
Nay even thus invade a Lady's quiet.

Now, thank our stars! those Gothic times are fled;
Now, well-bred men - and you are all well-bred -
Most justly think (and we are much the gainers)
Such conduct neither spirit, wit, nor manners.

For Right the third, our last, our best, our dearest,
That right to fluttering female hearts the nearest;
Which even the Rights of Kings, in low prostration,
Most humbly own - 'tis dear, dear admiration!
In that blest sphere alone we live and move;
There taste that life of life-immortal love.
Smiles, glances, sighs, tears, fits , flirtations, airs ;
'Gainst such an host what flinty savage dares,
When awful Beauty joins with all her charms
Who is so rash as rise in rebel arms?

But truce with kings, and truce with constitutions,
With bloody armaments and revolutions;
Let Majesty your first attention summon,
Ah! ca ira! The Majesty Of Woman!

PercyFilth Fri 21-Oct-11 18:55:24

A splendid recital piece:

The Green Eye of the Yellow God by J. Milton Hayes

There’s a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Khatmandu,
There's a little marble cross below the town;
There's a broken-hearted woman tends the grave of Mad Carew,
And the Yellow God forever gazes down.

He was known as "Mad Carew" by the subs at Khatmandu,
He was hotter than they felt inclined to tell;
But for all his foolish pranks, he was worshipped in the ranks,
And the Colonel's daughter smiled on him as well.

He had loved her all along, with a passion of the strong,
The fact that she loved him was plain to all.
She was nearly twenty-one and arrangements had begun
To celebrate her birthday with a ball.

He wrote to ask what present she would like from Mad Carew;
They met next day as he dismissed a squad;
And jestingly she told him then that nothing else would do
But the green eye of the little Yellow God.

On the night before the dance, Mad Carew seemed in a trance,
And they chaffed him as they puffed at their cigars;
But for once he failed to smile, and he sat alone awhile,
Then went out into the night beneath the stars.

He returned before the dawn, with his shirt and tunic torn,
And a gash across his temple dripping red;
He was patched up right away, and he slept through all the day,
And the Colonel's daughter watched beside his bed.

He woke at last and asked if they could send his tunic through;
She brought it, and he thanked her with a nod;
He bade her search the pocket saying, "That's from Mad Carew,"
And she found the little green eye of the god.

She upbraided poor Carew in the way that women do,
Though both her eyes were strangely hot and wet;
But she wouldn't take the stone and Mad Carew was left alone
With the jewel that he'd chanced his life to get.

When the ball was at its height, on that still and tropic night,
She thought of him and hastened to his room;
As she crossed the barrack square she could hear the dreamy air
Of a waltz tune softly stealing thro' the gloom.

His door was open wide, with silver moonlight shining through;
The place was wet and slippery where she trod;
An ugly knife lay buried in the heart of Mad Carew,
'Twas the "Vengeance of the Little Yellow God."

There's a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Khatmandu
There's a little marble cross below the town;
There's a broken-hearted woman tends the grave of Mad Carew,
And the Yellow God forever gazes down.

aliceliddell Fri 21-Oct-11 19:15:05

the little friend Where are you? Talk to me about that film. Have you read the book? Have you seen 'Odette' with the hideous toenail scene?

TheLittleFriend Fri 21-Oct-11 19:27:24

Oh Dangalf I'd not read The Voice for years. I've welled up, it so reminds me of my mum as it's one of her favourites.

Hi Alice, I remember first seeing that film when I was really young and being totally gob-smacked that it was based on a true story. So sad. The poem is my favourite part. Now I'm going to have to go and find the book on Amazon, i bet it's better than the film is it?

I bet the toenail scene is Odette being tortured - I've not seen it but someone else recommended it. Is it as good as CHNWP?

aliceliddell Fri 21-Oct-11 19:40:27

Not as emotionally engaging, but the book is really chilling and written in very stiff upper lip crusty colonel style, so quite horrifying. CHNWP was a favourite of my mum's, her mum (my Nan) was called Violet, so my dd's middle name is Violet. I went to a Violette Szabo commemoration event and met Tanya, the little girl playing at the end of the film, then about 55. Leo Marx was also there. It was very touching.

aliceliddell Fri 21-Oct-11 19:41:19

Sorry - Tanya is V S's daughter

TheLittleFriend Fri 21-Oct-11 19:51:54

Wow, how amazing to have met her daughter. It's hard to imagine having that story as one of the links to the mother she never got to know. I remember when I saw the film part of me wanted to be like those women, so brave. Do you know if any of the story is embellished, like the bit where she and Tony meet again on the train to the concentration camp?

lostlady Fri 21-Oct-11 20:04:35

noneshallsleep2 That Rosemary Norman was our naming day poem, love it smile

aliceliddell Fri 21-Oct-11 20:31:07

No, that bit is true. It's in a book called 'The White Rabbit' about the agent (Tony?) of that code name which describes how she had the chance to escape but went back to give them water. Amazing that they did all this stuff at a time when women didn't even get equal pay.

aliceliddell Fri 21-Oct-11 20:32:25

'She' in that ungrammatical last post was VS, not Tony

TheLittleFriend Fri 21-Oct-11 20:48:30

That's really interesting Alice, such fascinating stories make me feel very humble.

pinkhousesarebest Fri 21-Oct-11 21:01:35

"We Sat At The Window"
We sat at the window looking out,
And the rain came down like silken strings
That Swithin's day. Each gutter and spout
Babbled unchecked in the busy way
Of witless things:
Nothing to read, nothing to see
Seemed in that room for her and me
On Swithin's day.

We were irked by the scene, by our own selves; yes,
For I did not know, nor did she infer
How much there was to read and guess
By her in me, and to see and crown
By me in her.
Wasted were two souls in their prime,
And great was the waste, that July time
When the rain came down.

Must stop Mumsnetting...

MotherOfHobbit Fri 21-Oct-11 22:11:27

This was my favourite when I was very little and made my mother read it to me over and over. I still love it.

Overheard on a Salt Marsh by Harold Monro:

Nymph, nymph, what are your beads?

Green glass, goblin. Why do you stare at them?

Give them me.


Give them me. Give them me.


Then I will howl all night in the reeds,
lie in the mud and howl for them.

Goblin, why do you love them so?

They are better than stars or water,
Better than voices of winds that sing,
Better than any man’s fair daughter,
Your green glass beads on a silver ring.

Hush, I stole them out of the moon.

Give me your beads, I want them.


I will howl in a deep lagoon
For your green glass beads, I love them so.
Give them me. Give them.


ItsonlymeMrsDB Fri 21-Oct-11 22:16:25


Just wanted to say thank you all for this wonderful thread.

CleverHans Fri 21-Oct-11 23:14:06

This by Raymond Carver called

Late Fragment

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on this earth

spiderslegs Sat 22-Oct-11 02:52:44

Ahhh - this thread is joyous, moving & utterly heartbreaking, I think the most affecting poems just contain so much life, such a distillation of what it means to be.

It's made me go back to all my well thumbed books & have another look.

I give you more Raymond Carver


So early it's still almost dark out.
I'm near the window with coffee,
and the usual early morning stuff
that passes for thought.

When I see the boy and his friend
walking up the road
to deliver the newspaper.

They wear caps and sweaters,
and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.
They are so happy
they aren't saying anything, these boys.

I think if they could, they would take
each other's arm.
It's early in the morning,
and they are doing this thing together.

They come on, slowly.
The sky is taking on light,
though the moon still hangs pale over the water.

Such beauty that for a minute
death and ambition, even love,
doesn't enter into this.

Happiness. It comes on
unexpectedly. And goes beyond, really,
any early morning talk about it.

CleverHans Sat 22-Oct-11 10:59:23

spiderslegs I've never read that poem before but I love it! Thank you. Happiness. It comes on unexpectedly ... so true.

aliceliddell Sat 22-Oct-11 17:22:09

You've put some great poetry on here. 'Rage against the dying of the light' (Dylan Thomas) was read at my mother's funeral by her brother, a miner, who stood at the front shaking so much with emotion that his knees were literally knocking. Some poetry condenses and concentrates the essence of what we feel so brilliantly.

KurriKurri Sat 22-Oct-11 21:30:32

What a fabulous thread, many of my favourites are here but I'll add a couple, apologies if someone has already posted them, and I've missed it.

I find the simple stark expression of a moment of grief in this one very moving

The Woodspurge

The wind flapp'd loose, the wind was still,
Shaken out dead from tree and hill:
I had walk'd on at the wind's will,--
I sat now, for the wind was still.

Between my knees my forehead was,--
My lips, drawn in, said not Alas!
My hair was over in the grass,
My naked ears heard the day pass.

My eyes, wide open, had the run
Of some ten weeds to fix upon;
Among those few, out of the sun,
The woodspurge flower'd, three cups in one.

From perfect grief there need not be
Wisdom or even memory:
One thing then learnt remains to me,--
The woodspurge has a cup of three.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

and this one never fails to make me catch a breath, he is so profound and so right,

A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London

Never until the mankind making
Bird beast and flower
Fathering and all humbling darkness
Tells with silence the last light breaking
And the still hour
Is come of the sea tumbling in harness

And I must enter again the round
Zion of the water bead
And the synagogue of the ear of corn
Shall I let pray the shadow of a sound
Or sow my salt seed
In the least valley of sackcloth to mourn

The majesty and burning of the child's death.
I shall not murder
The mankind of her going with a grave truth
Nor blaspheme down the stations of the breath
With any further
Elegy of innocence and youth.

Deep with the first dead lies London's daughter,
Robed in the long friends,
The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother,
Secret by the unmourning water
Of the riding Thames.
After the first death, there is no other.

Dylan Thomas

yummytummy Sun 23-Oct-11 19:26:53

hiya, i love this one written by a soldier and found on him as he lay dying in a concentration camp. really sad. never knew if it ever reached his beloved.

Last Poem

Robert Desnos

I have so fiercely dreamed of you

And walked so far and spoken of you so,

Loved a shade of you so hard

That now I’ve no more left of you.

I’m left to be a shade among the shades

A hundred times more shade than shade

To be shade cast time and time again into your sun-transfigured life.

god -these poems are fabulous!

there are so many i love-some of which are on here

i really like this

I KNOW that I shall meet my fate

Somewhere among the clouds above;

Those that I fight I do not hate

Those that I guard I do not love;

My country is Kiltartan Cross,

My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,

No likely end could bring them loss

Or leave them happier than before.

norr law, nor duty bade me fight,

nor public man, nor cheering crowds,

A lonely impulse of delight

Drove to this tumult in the clouds;

I balanced all, brought all to mind,

The years to come seemed waste of breath,

waste of breath the years behind

In balance with this life, this death.

hugglymugly Sun 23-Oct-11 20:00:34

I don't do poetry. Heck, I mostly don't do EngLit either. But someone posted asking where this thread was, and I did the techy thing by virtue of remembering one particular poem. I've never been sure whether it was "I must go down to the sea again" or "I must down to the sea again", and despite googling I'm still not sure about that.

Anyway, here are a couple of poems from someone who definitely isn't in to all this stuff, but I like them.

Cargoes by John Masefield

QUINQUIREME of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine. 5

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amethysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores. 10

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke-stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.


The Night Train by Auden

This is the Night Mail crossing the border,
Bringing the cheque and the postal order,
Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,
The shop at the corner and the girl next door.
Pulling up Beattock, a steady climb:
The gradient's against her, but she's on time.
Past cotton-grass and moorland boulder
Shovelling white steam over her shoulder,
Snorting noisily as she passes
Silent miles of wind-bent grasses
Birds turn their heads as she approaches,
Stare from the bushes at her blank-faced coaches.
Sheep-dogs cannot turn her course;
They slumber on with paws across.
In the farm she passes no one wakes,
But a jug in the bedroom gently shakes.

Dawn freshens. Her climb is done.
Down towards Glasgow she descends
Towards the steam tugs yelping down the glade of cranes,
Towards the fields of apparatus, the furnaces
Set on the dark plain like gigantic chessmen.
All Scotland waits for her:
In the dark glens, beside the pale-green sea lochs
Men long for news.

Letters of thanks, letters from banks,
Letters of joy from the girl and the boy,
Receipted bills and invitations
To inspect new stock or visit relations,
And applications for situations
And timid lovers' declarations
And gossip, gossip from all the nations,
News circumstantial, news financial,
Letters with holiday snaps to enlarge in,
Letters with faces scrawled in the margin,
Letters from uncles, cousins, and aunts,
Letters to Scotland from the South of France,
Letters of condolence to Highlands and Lowlands
Notes from overseas to Hebrides
Written on paper of every hue,
The pink, the violet, the white and the blue,
The chatty, the catty, the boring, adoring,
The cold and official and the heart's outpouring,
Clever, stupid, short and long,
The typed and the printed and the spelt all wrong.

Thousands are still asleep
Dreaming of terrifying monsters,
Or of friendly tea beside the band at Cranston's or Crawford's:
Asleep in working Glasgow, asleep in well-set Edinburgh,
Asleep in granite Aberdeen,
They continue their dreams,
And shall wake soon and long for letters,
And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart,
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?

And for those you who don't know of that time now long past, here's a reminiscence of what was real for Auden. The rhythm of the communication system back then. This is a youtube video of a steam train making its way up the Licky Incline, the most challenging because it's so steep and requires a double-header (two engines):

HooberGoober Sun 23-Oct-11 20:01:39

And Death Shall Have No Dominion

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead mean naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

Dylan Thomas

pranma Sun 23-Oct-11 20:21:02

I am technically incompetent so can anyone tell me how to print this thread-its better than 'The Nation's Favourite Poems' and I don want to lose track of it.

pranma Sun 23-Oct-11 20:21:15


firsttimer78 Sun 23-Oct-11 20:24:06

She Is Gone (He Is Gone)

You can shed tears that she is gone
Or you can smile because she has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left

Your heart can be empty because you can't see her
Or you can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember her and only that she is gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

David Harkins

Always makes me think of special someones and smile! smile

chipmonkey Sun 23-Oct-11 20:30:22

MrsD those have me tears for obvious reasons.sad
Another at the moment for me is WB Yeats, "The Stolen Child" beautifully put to music by the Waterboys here

chipmonkey Sun 23-Oct-11 20:32:41

The Stolen Child
WB Yeats

WHERE dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we've hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

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 faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than he can understand.

thefirstMrsDeVeerie Sun 23-Oct-11 21:17:41

chipmonkey sad and (((((hugs)))))

That is beautiful.

This is another of my favourites, I particularly 'like' the last line.

We fall to the earth like leaves
Lives as brief as footprints in snow
No words express the grief we feel
I feel I cannot let her go.
For she is everywhere.
Walking on the windswept beach
Talking in the sunlit square.
Next to me in the car
I see her sitting there.
At night she dreams me
and in the morning the sun does not rise.
My life is as thin as the wind
And I am done with counting stars.
She is gone, she is gone.
I am her sad music, and I play on, and on, and on.
(Roger McGough)


'She is gone, she is gone.
I am her sad musich, and I play on, and on, and on'.

GalaxyWeaver Sun 23-Oct-11 22:38:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BestIsWest Sun 23-Oct-11 22:43:05

Pranma there is probabably and easier way but I just C&P the whole thread into a text document and printed that

ceres Sun 23-Oct-11 22:46:43

'To a child dancing in the wind' by Yeats.


DANCE there upon the shore;
What need have you to care
For wind or water’s roar?
And tumble out your hair
That the salt drops have wet;
Being young you have not known
The fool’s triumph, nor yet
Love lost as soon as won,
Nor the best labourer dead
And all the sheaves to bind.
What need have you to dread
The monstrous crying of wind?


Has no one said those daring
Kind eyes should be more learn’d?
Or warned you how despairing
The moths are when they are burned,
I could have warned you, but you are young,
So we speak a different tongue.

O you will take whatever’s offered
And dream that all the world’s a friend,
Suffer as your mother suffered,
Be as broken in the end.
But I am old and you are young,
And I speak a barbarous tongue.

GalaxyWeaver Sun 23-Oct-11 22:51:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PercyFilth Sun 23-Oct-11 23:28:20

Sixteen years after the Great War, in 1934, Bernard Newman and Harold Arpthorp, two British veterans, together wrote

The Road to La Bassée

I went across to France again, and walked about the line,
The trenches have been all filled in - the country's looking fine.
The folks gave me a welcome, and lots to eat and drink,
Saying, 'Allo, Tommee, back again? 'Ow do you do? In ze pink?'
And then I walked about again, and mooched about the line;
You'd never think there'd been a war, the country's looking fine.
But the one thing that amazed me, most shocked me, I should say
- There's buses running now from Bethune to La Bassée!

I sat at Shrapnel Corner and I tried to take it in,
It all seemed much too quiet, I missed the war-time din.
I felt inclined to bob down quick - Jerry sniper in that trench!
A minnie coming over! God, what a hellish stench!
Then I pulled myself together, and walked on to La Folette -
And the cows were calmly grazing on the front line parapet.
And the kids were playing marbles by the old Estaminet -
Fancy kiddies playing marbles on the road to La Bassée!

You'd never think there'd been a war, the country's looking fine -
I had a job in places picking out the old front line.
You'd never think there'd been a war - ah, yet you would, I know,
You can't forget those rows of headstones every mile or so.
But down by Tunnel Trench I saw a sight that made me start,
For there, at Tourbieres crossroads - a gaudy ice-cream cart!
It was hot, and I was dusty, but somehow I couldn't stay -
Ices didn't seem quite decent on the road to La Bassée.

Some of the sights seemed more than strange as I kept marching on.
The Somme's a blooming garden, and there are roses in Peronne.
The sight of dear old Arras almost made me give three cheers;
And there's kiddies now in Plugstreet, and mamselles in Armentiers.
But nothing that I saw out there so seemed to beat the band
As those buses running smoothly over what was No Man's Land.
You'd just as soon expect them from the Bank to Mandalay
As to see those buses running from Bethune to La Bassée.

Then I got into a bus myself, and rode for all the way,
Yes, I rode inside a bus from Bethune to La Bassée.
Through Beuvry and through Annequin, and then by Cambrin Tower -
The journey used to take four years, but now it's half an hour.
Four years to half an hour - the best speedup I've met.
Four years? Aye, longer still for some - they haven't got there yet.
Then up came the conductor chap, 'Vos billets s'il vous plait.'
Fancy asking for your tickets on the road to La Bassée.

And I wondered what they'd think of it - those mates of mine who died -
They never got to La Bassée, though God knows how they tried.
I thought back to the moments when their number came around,
And now those buses rattling over sacred, holy ground,
Yes, I wondered what they'd think of it, those mates of mine who died.
Of those buses rattling over the old pave close beside.
'Carry on! That's why we died!' I could almost hear them say,
To keep those buses always running from Bethune to La Bassée!'

TarquinGyrfalcon Sun 23-Oct-11 23:36:42

Lots of the poems i love have already been added to this thread.
Here are two more

I saw a man this morning
Who did not wish to die
I ask, and cannot answer,
If otherwise wish I.

Fair broke the day this morning
Against the Dardanelles ;
The breeze blew soft, the morn's cheeks
Were cold as cold sea-shells

But other shells are waiting
Across the Aegean sea,
Shrapnel and high explosive,
Shells and hells for me.

O hell of ships and cities,
Hell of men like me,
Fatal second Helen,
Why must I follow thee ?

Achilles came to Troyland
And I to Chersonese :
He turned from wrath to battle,
And I from three days' peace.

Was it so hard, Achilles,
So very hard to die ?
Thou knewest and I know not-
So much the happier I.

I will go back this morning
From Imbros over the sea ;
Stand in the trench, Achilles,
Flame-capped, and shout for me.

Patrick Houston Shaw-Stewart

How to Kill a Living Thing

Neglect it
Criticize it to its face
Say how it kills the light
Traps all the rubbish
Bores you with its green

Harden your heart
Cut it down close
To the root as possible

Forget it
For a week or a month
Return with an axe
Split it with one blow
Insert a stone

To keep the wound wide open.

Eibhlin Nic Eochaidh

chipmonkey Tue 25-Oct-11 13:06:13

Also Love The Bells by Edgar Allen Poe

Hear the sledges with the bells -
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells -
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.


Hear the mellow wedding bells -
Golden bells!
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight!
From the molten-golden notes,
And all in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats
On the moon!
Oh, from out the sounding cells
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!
How it swells!
How it dwells
On the Future! -how it tells
Of the rapture that impels
To the swinging and the ringing
Of the bells, bells, bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells -
To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!


Hear the loud alarum bells -
Brazen bells!
What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,
Leaping higher, higher, higher,
With a desperate desire,
And a resolute endeavor
Now -now to sit or never,
By the side of the pale-faced moon.
Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells
Of despair!
How they clang, and clash, and roar!
What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
Yet the ear it fully knows,
By the twanging
And the clanging,
How the danger ebbs and flows;
Yet the ear distinctly tells,
In the jangling
And the wrangling,
How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells -
Of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells -
In the clamor and the clangor of the bells!


Hear the tolling of the bells -
Iron bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
In the silence of the night,
How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!
For every sound that floats
From the rust within their throats
Is a groan.
And the people -ah, the people -
They that dwell up in the steeple,
All alone,
And who tolling, tolling, tolling,
In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling
On the human heart a stone -
They are neither man nor woman -
They are neither brute nor human -
They are Ghouls:
And their king it is who tolls;
And he rolls, rolls, rolls,
A paean from the bells!
And his merry bosom swells
With the paean of the bells!
And he dances, and he yells;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the paean of the bells,
Of the bells -
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the throbbing of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells -
To the sobbing of the bells;
Keeping time, time, time,
As he knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,
To the rolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells -
To the tolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells -
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

Yani Tue 25-Oct-11 15:20:12

I remember learning this at school, and having very mixed feelings about it. It was a transition between childhood and adult understanding for me.

Seamus Heaney The Purge

I was six when I first saw kittens drown.
Dan Taggart pitched them, 'the scraggy wee shits',
Into a bucket; a frail metal sound,

Soft paws scraping like mad. But their tiny din
Was soon soused. They were slung on the snout
Of the pump and the water pumped in.

'Sure, isn't it better for them now?' Dan said.
Like wet gloves they bobbed and shone till he sluiced
Them out on the dunghill, glossy and dead.

Suddenly frightened, for days I sadly hung
Round the yard, watching the three sogged remains
Turn mealy and crisp as old summer dung

Until I forgot them. But the fear came back
When Dan trapped big rats, snared rabbits, shot crows
Or, with a sickening tug, pulled old hens' necks.

Still, living displaces false sentiments
And now, when shrill pups are prodded to drown
I just shrug, 'Bloody pups'. It makes sense:

'Prevention of cruelty' talk cuts ice in town
Where they consider death unnatural
But on well-run farms pests have to be kept down.

bamps33 Tue 10-Apr-12 16:13:23

I had to bring this thread back to life after reading all these wonderful poems. The Purge gave me chills when I first read it and still does. (Funnily enough - saw the Hunger Games a few days ago and can relate the last line of the poem very much to that!)

Here's my favourite - so powerful - another Yeats

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Hopefullyrecovering Sun 15-Apr-12 03:05:20

I am delighted to see the Robert Frost afficionados on this thread. It is too hard to chose a favourite poem. How can one have a single favourite poem? But I wanted to contribute this one to the thread and a boy I knew many years ago set this to music. He got the minor key. He got the lullaby effect. I didn't love him though, and I am sorry that I didn't.

(Poem #307) Lay your sleeping head, my love
Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant enchanted slope
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope;
While an abstract insight wakes
Among the glaciers and the rocks
The hermit's sensual ecstasy.

Certainty, fidelity
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell,
And fashionable madmen raise
Their pedantic boring cry:
Every farthing of the cost,
All the dreaded cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.

Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of sweetness show
Eye and knocking heart may bless,
Find the mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness see you fed
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.
-- W H Auden

blapbird Wed 18-Apr-12 00:19:45

Allen Ginsberg

Ego Confession

I want to be known as the most brilliant man in America
Introduced to Gyalwa Karmapa heir of the Whispered Transmission
Crazy Wisdom Practice Lineage
as the secret young wise man who visited him and winked anonymously
decade ago in Gangtok
Prepared the way for Dharma in America without mentioning Dharma--
scribbled laughter
Who saw Blake and abandoned God
To whom the Messianic Fink sent messages darkest hour sleeping on
steel sheets "somewhere in the Federal Prison system" weathermen
got no Moscow Gold
who went backstage to Cecil Taylor serious chat chord structure & Time
in a nightclub
who fucked a rose-lipped rock star in a tiny bedroom slum watched by a
statue of Vajrasattva--
and overthrew the CIA with a silent thought
Old Bohemians many years hence in Viennese beergardens'll recall
his many young lovers with astonishing faces and iron breasts
gnostic apparatus and magical observation of rainbow-lit spiderwebs
extraordinary cooking, lung stew & Spaghetti a la Vongole and recipe
for salad dressing 3 parts oil one part vinegar much garlic and
honey a spoonful
his extraordinary ego, at service of Dharma and completely empty
unafraid of its own self's spectre
parroting gossip of gurus and geniuses famous for their reticence
Who sang a blues made rock stars weep and moved an old black
guitarist to laughter in Memphis
I want to be the spectacle of Poesy triumphant over trickery of the world
Omniscient breathing its own breath thru tear gas spy hallucination
whose common sense astonished gaga Gurus and rich Artistes
who called the justice department & threaten'd to Blow the Whistle
Stopt Wars, turned back petrochemical Industries' Captains to grieve &
groan in bed
Chopped wood, built forest houses & established farms
distributed monies to poor poets & nourished imaginative genius of the
Sat silent in jazz roar writing poetry with an ink pen
wasn't afraid of God or Death after his 48th year
let his brain turn to water under Laughing Gas his gold molar pulled by
futuristic dentists
Seamen knew ocean's surface a year
carpenter later learned bevel and mattock
son, conversed with elder Pound & treated his father gently
--All empty all for show, all for the sake of Poesy
to set surpassing example of sanity as measure for late generations
Exemplify Muse Power to the young avert future suicide
accepting his own lie & the gaps between lies with equal good humor
Solitary in worlds full of insects & singing birds all solitary
--who had no subject but himself in many disguises
some outside his own body including empty air-filled space forests &
Even climbed mountains to create his mountain, with ice ax & crampons
& ropes, over Glaciers--

I hope someone can help me out here..
My much loved Scottish granny used to recite this to me and I now recite it to my beautiful son
I wonder, I wonder
If anyone knows
Who lives at the heart of the velvety rise?
Is it a goblin?
Or is it an elf?
Or us it the queen of the fairies herself?

It means so much to me, I know it's rather silly, but I'd love to know where it's from

AViewfromtheFridge Sat 15-Sep-12 13:58:10

Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but just wanted to add this:

Three or So by Berlie Doherty

Is the girl in the snapshot me?
The little girl in the woolen dress
By a broken door in a tiny yard
She's shy and laughing and ready to run
And shielding her eyes from the morning sun

I've forgotten the dress, and the colour of it
I've forgotten who took the photograph
I've forgotten the little girl, three or so
She's someone else now, to be wondered at
With my mother's eyes and my own child's hair
And my brother's smile, but the child who's there ----
The real soul of her -- fled long ago
To the alley-way where she mustn't go
Through the broken door in that tiny yard

Rough men on motorbikes, not to be looked at
Scrawny cats scratching, not to be touched
Down to the railway line, never to go there
Nor up the road where the traffic rushed
Stay closed in the yard with the sun in your eyes
Come and be still for your photograph

I can hear now the drone of those bikes
And the loud dark voices of the men
And the howl of the tomcats on the prowl
I can hear the scream and shush on the train
And the whooshing of traffic on the road

But the summer buzz in that tiny yard
And the child who laughed with her best dress on
And the voice that told her to stand in the sun
And the click that pressed the shutter down
Have gone
As if they had never been.

ZombiesAreClammyDodgers Thu 20-Sep-12 23:28:12

This is my favourite.

Sonnet XVII
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Pablo Neruda

ZombiesAreClammyDodgers Thu 20-Sep-12 23:29:35

Actually this is the translation that is nicest.

Pablo Neruda

Sonnet XVII (100 Love Sonnets, 1960)

I don't love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as certain dark things are loved,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn't bloom and carries
hidden within itself the light of those flowers,
and thanks to your love, darkly in my body
lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don't know any other way of loving

but this, in which there is no I or you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.

daddyorchipsdaddyorchips Fri 21-Sep-12 12:33:08

STRAWBERRIES by Edwin Morgan

There were never strawberries
like the ones we had
that sultry afternoon
sitting on the step
of the open french window
facing each other
your knees held in mine
the blue plates in our laps
the strawberries glistening
in the hot sunlight
we dipped them in sugar
looking at each other
not hurrying the feast
for one to come
the empty plates
laid on the stone together
with the two forks crossed
and I bent towards you
sweet in that air
in my arms
abandoned like a child
from your eager mouth
the taste of strawberries
in my memory
lean back again
let me love you

let the sun beat
on our forgetfulness
one hour of all
the heat intense
and summer lightning
on the Kilpatrick hills

let the storm wash the plates

sheeesh Sat 13-Oct-12 22:40:31

If you are mortar, it is hard to feel well-disposed towards to the two bricks you are squashed between, or even a sense of community.

Ivor Cutler

TennisFan42 Fri 04-Jan-13 23:07:08

The Price of Art in Luton by John Hegley

On the bridge approaching the railway,
the man was begging.
I said draw me a dog
and I'll give you a quid.
So I gave him some paper
and he did.
And I said, there you go, mate,
you can make money out of art!
Will you sign it?
As I handed him the one pound thirty-odd
I had in my pocket,
he informed me that the signed ones were a fiver.

2boysama Mon 22-Apr-13 12:36:03

Why do we look back and say
'I was happy yesterday'?
We read the stars, we hope, we seek
For happiness, next month, next week
Just give that job, that man to me
And see how happy I will be
I wonder why, I wonder how
We never think we're happy now

Sparklymommy Sun 05-May-13 20:10:29

Someone's nicked my knickers by Gez Walsh

Someone's nicked my knickers
And I just want them back
If I find out whose nicked them
I'll give them such I smack

I left them in my top drawer
So they would be easy to find
I can't go out til I find them...
Not with a bare behind!

I've looked in my wardrobe
From the bottom to the top
I looked behind my radiator
Where I found an old green sock

Oh, who has nicked my knickers?
Just where could they have gone?
Wait, I've just remembered
This morning I put them on!

animalia Thu 22-May-14 06:49:54

I love Dowson's "They are not long".
"They are not long the weeping and the laughter, love and desire and hate. I Think they have no portion in us after we pass the gate. They are not long the days of wine and roses. Out of a misty dream our path emerges for a while then closes within a dream".

WhatsGoingOnEh Sun 27-Jul-14 18:28:56

What a lovely thread! I know it's years closed, but I've just read the whole thing and have laughed and cried.

A couple of my favourites:

Defining the Problem, by Wendy Cope

I can't forgive you
But even if I could
You wouldn't pardon me for seeing through you.
And yet I cannot rid myself of love
For what I thought you were before I knew you.

And by Edna St Vincent Millay:

IF I should learn, in some quite casual way,
That you were gone, not to return again—
Read from the back-page of a paper, say,
Held by a neighbor in a subway train,
How at the corner of this avenue
And such a street (so are the papers filled)
A hurrying man—who happened to be you—
At noon to-day had happened to be killed,
I should not cry aloud—I could not cry
Aloud, or wring my hands in such a place—
I should but watch the station lights rush by
With a more careful interest on my face,
Or raise my eyes and read with greater care
Where to store furs and how to treat the hair.

Again, Edna:

“Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!”


“What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.”

And finally, Dorothy:

"Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live."


Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now