What poem speaks to you?

What is your favourite poem? When someone asks me that it’s a bit like asking me which one of my children I love the most…it changes every day (joke!).

In case you missed it World Poetry Day was Tuesday. I know poetry is not for everyone, but I find a comfort and pleasure in it I could never get from a book. In times of sadness certain poems salve my soul or give me the words a broken heart cannot express. The same is true for Love, happiness, friendship and parenthood.

I have many poetry books but my go to book is Daisy Goodwin’s ‘Poems To Last A Lifetime’. It’s a compilation of poetry covering life from birth to adolescence, first love, marriage, everlasting love, divorce and death, beautifully illustrated and edited. There is a poem for everyone in there and many I’d never heard of.

So tonight I’d like to share with you two of my favourites at the moment.

My first is one I’ve loved ever since I began to realise my children were growing up and turning back the clock was not an option. It’s simplicity is striking. So much emotion conveyed in so few words. With Mother’s Day on Sunday this poem is very much on my mind as my small children are no more.

Beatrix is Three.
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.

My second choice is a poem I’ve lived by especially in the past year. We are often asked to make decisions in our lives, some bigger than other. Sometimes it comes down to ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, but was it the right ‘No’?

Che Fece…Il Gran Fifiuto.
By C.P. Cavafy.

For some people the day comes
when they have to declare the great Yes
or the great No. It’s clear at once who has the Yes
ready within him; and saying it,

he goes forward in honor and self-assurance.
He who refuses does not repent. Asked again,
he would still say no. Yet that no—the right no—
undermines him all his life.

Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard

If you have a favourite poem, always or just todays choice I’d love to know.

photo credit: Nick Kenrick.. My favourite poetry book via photopin (license)

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25 thoughts on “What poem speaks to you?

    1. I had never read either poem. Both are wonderful. Thank you for sharing.
      I loved the line, ‘She let go of the committee of indecision within her.’

    1. Thank you. I find there are poems to suit my mood on a daily basis, although I do have a few such as these which always feature in my top ten.

  1. Reblogged this on newauthoronline and commented:
    As with the author of this post, many poems speak to me. However, among my favourite poems is Ernest Christopher Dowson’s “They Are Not Long” which runs thus”:
    “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”.

  2. “Up from Earth’s Centre through the Seventh Gate
    I rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate;
    And many a Knot unravel’d by the Road;
    But not the Master-knot of Human Fate.”
    ―Omar Khayyam.

    The little book with his rubaiyat has travelled with me a long time.. and there is always something new to find.

    Ah Love! could thou and I with Fate conspire
    To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
    Would not we shatter it to bits — and then
    Re-mould it nearer to the Heart’s Desire!

    1. Wow, they are indeed beautiful. I’m always taken aback by poetry. How so much can be said by so few words and indeed how those words lead us to other images not even spoken of?
      Thank you Sue for sharing those. I’m off to google now.

  3. Love your favorite of the day. Here’s just one of mine.

    INVICTUS
    By: William Ernest Hindley

    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 winked or cried aloud.
    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 straight the gate,
    How charged with punishments
    the scroll
    I am the master of my fate;
    I am the captain of my soul.

    1. I have also enjoyed that poem. I read it first as a teenager and it really appealed to me. Thank you for sharing it again I’ve not read it in a long time.

  4. i love both of these, tric. i love poetry of all kinds and some of my fav poets are pablo neruda and mary oliver. love how words can make us feel so much, when just arranged in a new way

    1. Yes indeed. It’s one of the reasons I love your posts so much as you often pick a sentence from a poem or quote and create a new thought for it, mixed with our modern world.

  5. I don’t read much poetry these days, but as a child I adored The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes, perhaps because it was so evocative, and I suspect my choices would not be much more sophisticated now!

    1. I am not a very sophisticated reader of poetry either. I like poems I can understand and read easily but which touch me. I do love reading it though.

  6. So hard to choose just one poem 😉 But this poem by Derek Walcott to died recently is certainly up there for me.

    Love After Love

    The time will come
    when, with elation
    you will greet yourself arriving
    at your own door, in your own mirror
    and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

    and say, sit here. Eat.
    You will love again the stranger who was your self.
    Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
    to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

    all your life, whom you ignored
    for another, who knows you by heart.
    Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

    the photographs, the desperate notes,
    peel your own image from the mirror.
    Sit. Feast on your life.

  7. Late again Tric! I found this poem some years ago which I go back to regularly from poet Ham Hyeryon she hails from Kangnung the poem is called Breath Hole

    What is God?
    i say God is a hole.
    A hole? Any hole? a nostril hole?
    But there are holes everywhere?
    Yes, there are lattice holes,
    sweat holes, kettle holes…
    and are they all God?
    Yes. And the sky is a hole, too:
    vaster than sun or stars.

    Why do holes exist?
    Because without holes the world cannot breathe.

    Throat holes are food holes.
    Water explodes when boiled in a kettle without a hole.
    Trees and grasses are the earth’s sweat holes:
    thus the darkness within the earth won’t explode.
    There are holes to let tears out when sad,
    holes to let laughter out when glad:
    thus the world won’t explode:
    And the biggest hole of all is the hole
    that lets happiness out,
    the word hole, the breath hole.

    And is that why you say
    God is a hole?

    From – Looking for the Cow. Modern Korean Poems.

  8. Thanks C.j. I read your poem last night and it really got under my skin. So simple, yet not at all simple. Thank you for sharing it. I’d not heard it before.

  9. From a parenting perspective I just love The Pomegranate by Eavan Boland – a reminder that they will follow their own paths and as a parent, we have to let them. Always makes me a little sad but it’s so relatable and really beautiful. I love the mix of mythology and popular culture too.

    The only legend I have ever loved is
    the story of a daughter lost in hell.
    And found and rescued there.
    Love and blackmail are the gist of it.
    Ceres and Persephone the names.
    And the best thing about the legend is
    I can enter it anywhere. And have.
    As a child in exile in
    a city of fogs and strange consonants,
    I read it first and at first I was
    an exiled child in the crackling dusk of
    the underworld, the stars blighted. Later
    I walked out in a summer twilight
    searching for my daughter at bed-time.
    When she came running I was ready
    to make any bargain to keep her.
    I carried her back past whitebeams
    and wasps and honey-scented buddleias.
    But I was Ceres then and I knew
    winter was in store for every leaf
    on every tree on that road.
    Was inescapable for each one we passed.
    And for me.
    It is winter
    and the stars are hidden.
    I climb the stairs and stand where I can see
    my child asleep beside her teen magazines,
    her can of Coke, her plate of uncut fruit.
    The pomegranate! How did I forget it?
    She could have come home and been safe
    and ended the story and all
    our heart-broken searching but she reached
    out a hand and plucked a pomegranate.
    She put out her hand and pulled down
    the French sound for apple and
    the noise of stone and the proof
    that even in the place of death,
    at the heart of legend, in the midst
    of rocks full of unshed tears
    ready to be diamonds by the time
    the story was told, a child can be
    hungry. I could warn her. There is still a chance.
    The rain is cold. The road is flint-coloured.
    The suburb has cars and cable television.
    The veiled stars are above ground.
    It is another world. But what else
    can a mother give her daughter but such
    beautiful rifts in time?
    If I defer the grief I will diminish the gift.
    The legend will be hers as well as mine.
    She will enter it. As I have.
    She will wake up. She will hold
    the papery flushed skin in her hand.
    And to her lips. I will say nothing.

    1. Isn’t that so beautiful and perfect?Poetry speaks to a part of me no other words reach.
      Thank you so much for sharing. I love reading a favourite poem from someone else’s perspective.

    1. I know it’s so simple and yet says so much. I’ve loved it a long time, but also love the fact it’s so easy to remember and quote to myself in times of parenting drama!

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