I thought it would be interesting to record when I have come across poetry without looking for it, now that I seem to have a newly awakened awareness of it. So this was May:
3 May 2015 – Walt Whitman, BBC R4 programme about him, particularly the impact of his experiences in WW1 on his subsequent poetry. Not a poet I know much about, save by reputation and his influence on many later American poets.
5 May 2015 – Lemn Sissay – BBC R4 programme by him, looking at ideas about ‘home’ and what it is, what we mean by it, though his own life story and poetry. A fascinating and very powerful piece from a very talented and inspiring man.
5 May 2015 – Slow TV BBC4 – the canal trip – quotation from the last poem written by Seamus Heaney before his death in 2013 – Banks of a Canal – I wasn’t aware of it so had to look it up. Haven’t found it online so I will search it out in the library next time I’m there. The extract quoted was a lovely evocation of canals (with which I am now very familiar). I also came across this article about the poem, which I found really interesting.
12 May 2015 – Things Fall Apart – BBC R4 (again) – a fascinating programme celebrating 150 years since the birth of W B Yeats, looking in particular at his poem The Second Coming, written in 1919 in the aftermath of World War 1. I am fascinated by the way phrases from poetry have found their way into our language and we recognise them without necessarily knowing where they originate (Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world).
20 May 2015 – Chelsea Flower Show, BBC 2 TV coverage – a section on a garden created by young people from a voluntary organisation in London called Roots and Shoots, based on the poem by Rudyard Kipling – The Glory of the Garden (written 1923). The choice of Rudyard Kipling, and this clearly appropriate poem, as the inspiration for this year’s garden was prompted by it being the 150th anniversary of Kipling’s birth. The garden itself was lovely, and it was inspiring to hear the young people read the poem as we saw them learning and preparing the plants for the show. And to cap it all, they (deservedly) won a gold medal. Three of my passions brought together in one (gardening and growing things; poetry; growing people, especially young people). Another poem new to me. What could be better?
21 May – as I walked through the centre of Reading towards the station at the end of the Kennet and Avon section of my walk, I came across this information board alongside the canal towpath, with an extract from Oscar Wilde‘s poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Of course I’ve heard of it, but not yet read it (I will now)*. I do however recognise the line ‘Yet each man kills the thing he loves‘, not realising that this was where it originated. * [gosh what a very, very long poem. I read the first part and part of the second part, then I started to flag. Maybe it’s something to listen to while I’m ironing or knitting one day].
So that was May. Poetry just seems to be there, waiting for me to catch it as it floats past.