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World Poetry Day

In celebration of World Poetry Day

 

Have a look around through excerpts from a selection of poems old and new, and some videos too

(nope, didn’t mean to do that)

 

From the private ease of Mother’s womb

I fall into the lighted room.

Baby Song, Thom Gunn

Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.

In a drafty museum, your nakedness

Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls

Morning Song, Sylvia Plath

The Angel that presided o’er my birth

Said, ‘Little creature, form’d of Joy and Mirth,

‘Go love without the help of any Thing on Earth.’

The Angel that presided o’er my birth, William Blake

 

I, Bertolt Brecht, came out of the black forests.

My mother moved me into the cities as I lay

Inside her body. And the coldness of the forests

Will be inside me till my dying day

Of Poor B.B. Bertolt Brecht

 

Precious, the soundless breathing of wife and children

In a house on a field lit by the morning star

And in the 51st Year of that Century, while My Brother Cried in the Trench, while My Enemy Glared from the Cave, Hyam Plutzik

 

[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2z-Cd3luqA” align=”center” /]

I am a Child of this World,

And a Child of Grace,

And Mother, I shall be glad when it is over,

I am Bog-Face

Bog-Face, Stevie Smith

The day my father came back from the sea

broke and handsome

I saw him walking across the savannah

and knew at once       it was him.

Conductors of His Mystery (for Albert Joseph), Anthony Joseph

 

In my childhood trees were green

And there was plenty to be seen.

When I was five the black dreams came;

Nothing after was quite the same.

Autobiography, Louis Macneice

My prime of youth is but a frost of cares;

My feast of joy is but a dish of pain;

Elegy for Himself, Chidiock Tichborne

But the young queen would not listen;

She rose in her pale nightgown;

She drew in the heavy casement

And pushed the latches down

The Cap and Bells, W.B Yeats

 

[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYMtmQ_H570″ align=”center” /]

For the youth whom whisky had led astray

The morning after was the first day

Apple Blossom, Louis Macneice

 

All the world said, Nobody is braver, nobody is bolder,

nobody else has done

anything to equal it. He went home as bold as he could be

with the swinging rainbow on his shoulder

Legend, Judith Wright

Now an apprentice washes his cheeks

With salt water and sunlight

A Sea-Chantey, Derek Walcott

Under the parabola of a ball,

a child turning into a man,

I looked into the air too long

How to Kill, Keith Douglas

 

[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0N94ATopT8″ align=”center” /]

How happy is the little Stone

That rambles in the Road alone,

And doesn’t care about Careers

How happy is the little Stone, Emily Dickinson

Yes I could be a beggar

Maybe not a tax collector

But I could be a streetwise snob,

But I’ll jus keep reciting de poems dat I am writing

One day I’ll have a proper job

It’s Work, Benjamin Zephaniah

I have never walked on Westminster Bridge

or had a close-up view of daffodils.

My childhood’s roots are the Haitian hills

where runaway slaves made a freedom pledge

and scarlet poincianas flaunt their scent.

Toussaint L’Ouverture Acknowledges Wordsworth’s Sonnet ‘To Toussaint L’Overture’, John Agard

 

[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOX1ETA0eUo” align=”center” /]

I shall never be

Different. Love me.

I cannot grow, W.H Auden

She samples my heartbeat and mixes it with

techno so hardcore it’s spewing out Audis

on acid for fuel. Lipstick Lesbians,

that girls’ club used to be run in Brixton

like a slow-burning fuse. I was down.

She picked me up.

Josephine Baker Finds Herself, Patience Agbabi

 

[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3EKXXPfeFg” align=”center” /]

I’ll love you till the ocean

Is folded and hung up to dry

And the seven stars go squawking

Like geese about the sky

As I walked out one evening, W.H Auden

That, if I then had wak’d after long sleep,

Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,

The clouds methought would open and show riches

Ready to drop upon me; that, when I wak’d

I cried to dream again.

The Tempest, William Shakespeare

Rise like Lions after slumber

In unvanquishable number –

Shake your chains to earth like dew

Which in sleep had fallen on you –

Ye are many – they are few

The Mask of Anarchy, Percy Bysshe Shelley

 

[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8umCijRdnQ” align=”center” /]

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 wood;

For nothing now can ever come to any good

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, W.H. Auden

 

You’re a nasty surprise in a sandwich.

You’re a drawing-pin caught in my sock.

You’re the limpest of shakes from a hand which

I’d have thought would be firm as a rock

God, A Poem, James Fenton

Every old man I see

In October-coloured weather

Seems to say to me:

‘I once was your father.’

Memory of My Father, Patrick Kavanagh

Thou’lt listen to my lengthened tale,

And pity me when I am frail –

A Mother to Her Waking Infant, Joanna Baillie

An old man stirs the fire to a blaze,

In the house of a child, of a friend, of a brother.

He has over-lingered his welcome; the days,

Grown desolate, whisper and sigh to each other

An old man stirs the fire to a blaze, W.B. Yeats

 

And the octogenarian loves the little flocks.

He is quite blue; the terrible wind tries his breathing.

The narcissi look up like children, quickly and whitely

Among the Narcissi, Sylvia Plath

I have borne this baked potato

O’er the Generation Gap,

Pray accept this baked potato

Let me lay it in your heated lap

Giving Potatoes, Adrian Mitchell

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

Do not go gently into that good night, Dylan Thomas

 

And death shall have no dominion.

Dead men naked they shall be one

With the man in the wind and the west moon;

With their bones picked clean and the clean bones gone

And death shall have no dominion, Dylan Thomas

I do not know what age I am,

I am no mortal age;

I know nothing of women,

Nothing of cities,

I cannot die

Innocence, Patrick Kavanagh

 

[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7OE6bDfM2M” align=”center” /]

He who binds to himself a joy

Does the winged life destroy;

But he who kisses the joy as it flies

Lives in eternity’s sun rise.

Eternity, William Blake

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