There’s something satisfying about reading an old, familiar poem, even (especially) if you almost know it by heart.
What is this life if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare...
(Leisure by W. H. Davies)
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you...
(If... by Rudyard Kipling)
Poetry can be a great comfort when times are hard. Mum is very ill. It’s cancer of the oesophagus. My life has returned to the routine of daily hospital visits and bags of washing.
At times like this I can’t concentrate on novels so I thought I’d revisit Stephen Fry’s The Ode Less Travelled in which he explains the processes of poetry writing. I love reading Stephen Fry. He writes as he talks and it’s like having him sitting next to me but this book has beaten me. I never knew that poetry could be SO complicated with its anapaest, dactyl, molasses... It makes my attempts at poetry writing look embarrassingly naive. [My Little Nut Tree]
But does that matter? I enjoy it so I’m issuing a warning! I’m going to carry on writing it however naive it may be.
Our love of rhythm and rhyme is nurtured from when we’re very young through nursery rhymes and simple songs. My favourite picture books are the rhyming ones which brings me to a major gripe. I understand:
- that publishers need to watch the pennies
- that picture books are expensive to produce.
- that they need to get foreign rights to cover the cost
- that rhyming texts make translation more difficult
...but I can’t be the only person who loves rhyming picture books. If we all love them and the children all love them, isn’t it a shame that most publishers state quite clearly in their submission guidelines ‘No rhyming texts’. Come on publishers. Give us more of what we want!
What’s your favourite ‘almost recite by heart’ poem?