What's your favourite poem?

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  • What's your favourite poem?
  • Mr Woppit

    johndoh – Member

    There was a young man from Dundee
    Who got stung on the leg
    By a wasp
    When asked if it hurt he said ‘no, not a lot and it can do it again if it likes’.

    Max Wall.

    All this sax
    and violins
    musicians should be band

    Premier Icon downshep

    The hedgehog is a little beast
    who likes a quiet wood
    where he can feed his family
    on good and proper food

    He has a funny little snout
    that’s rather like a pig’s
    with which he eats like us, of course
    but also grunts and digs.

    Downshep when I woz in Primary 3


    Anyone done the obvious?

    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!


    Come to the edge.
    We might fall.
    Come to the edge.
    It’s too high!
    And they came,
    and we pushed,
    And they flew.

    Christopher Logue

    Ageing schoolmaster by Vernon Scannell

    And now another autumn morning finds me
    With chalk dust on my sleeve and in my breath,
    Preoccupied with vague, habitual speculation
    On the huge inevitability of death.

    Not wholly wretched, yet knowing absolutely
    That I shall never reacquaint myself with joy,
    I sniff the smell of ink and chalk and my mortality
    And think of when I rolled, a gormless boy,

    And rollicked round the playground of my hours,
    And wonder when precisely tolled the bell
    Which summoned me from summer liberties
    And brought me to this chill autumnal cell

    From which I gaze upon the april faces
    That gleam before me, like apples ranged on shelves,
    And yet I feel no pinch or prick of envy
    Nor would I have them know their sentenced selves.

    With careful effort I can separate the faces,
    The dull, the clever, the various shapes and sizes,
    But in the autumn shades I find I only
    Brood upon death, who carries off all the prizes.


    The pointy bird,
    a pointy pointy.
    Anoint my head,
    anointy nointy.

    Steve Martin.
    The man with two brains.


    Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie,
    O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
    Thou need na start awa sae hasty
    Wi bickering brattle!
    I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
    Wi’ murdering pattle.

    I’m truly sorry man’s dominion
    Has broken Nature’s social union,
    An’ justifies that ill opinion
    Which makes thee startle
    At me, thy poor, earth born companion
    An’ fellow mortal!
    Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
    The present only toucheth thee:
    But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
    On prospects drear!
    An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
    I guess an’ fear!

    (To a mouse)


    “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” – Robert Browning

    First came across the reference to it in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series of books — it figures into all seven of the book series.
    If you have read the series you can see the ties of the poem throughout the entire storyline.

    Premier Icon drain

    W B Yeats’ “He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” – because I’m a hopeless romantic… It scans so beautifully.

    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.


    Perhaps not my favourite but enjoying this right now:

    Second Coming by W.B. Yeats

    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?


    I write loads of poetry me, but there is no way on earth I’m sticking any of it here..

    However I’m a fan of Northern Poets me, like:
    Simon Armitage
    Ian Duhig
    And the Tyneside Bloodaxe Crew.

    Too many great poems to put on here.


    Albert Guest…

    Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
          But he with a chuckle replied
    That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
          Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
    So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
          On his face. If he worried he hid it.
    He started to sing as he tackled the thing
          That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

    Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
          At least no one ever has done it;”
    But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
          And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
    With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
          Without any doubting or quiddit,
    He started to sing as he tackled the thing
          That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

    There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
          There are thousands to prophesy failure,
    There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
          The dangers that wait to assail you.
    But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
          Just take off your coat and go to it;
    Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
          That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

    Premier Icon Northwind

    Dare not to sleep!
    By Arnulf Øverland
    (translated from Norwegian by Lars-Toralf Storstrand)

    I was awakened one morning, by the quaintest of dreams
    ‘twas like a voice, spoken to me
    It sounded afar – like an underground stream,
    I rose and said: Why do you call me?

    Dare not to slumber! Dare not to sleep!
    Dare not believe, it was merely a dream!
    Yore I was judged.
    The gallows were built in the court this evening,
    They’ll come for me — 5’ in the morning

    This dungeon is teeming,
    And barracks stand dungeon by dungeon
    we lie here, awaiting, in cold cells of stone,
    We lie here, we rot, in these murky holes.

    We know not ourselves, what does lie ahead
    Who will be the next one they’ll reach for.
    We moan and we shriek: But do you take heed?
    Is there none among you who’ll hearken?

    No one can see us,
    None know what befalls us.
    Yet more:
    None will believe – what the day will bring us!

    And then You defy: This dare not be true!
    That men can be utterly evil.
    There has to be some one with merits pure
    Oh, brother, you still have a great deal to learn

    They said: You will give your life, if commanded
    We’ve given it now, for naught it was handed
    The world has forgotten, we’ve all been deceived
    Dare not to sleep in this hour – this eve.

    You oughtn’t go to your business hence,
    Or think: What’s your loss – or what is your gain?
    You oughtn’t attribute your fields and your kine,
    Nor say you’ve enough – with all that is thine.

    You oughn’t abide, sitting calm in your home
    Saying: Dismal it is, poor they are, and alone
    You cannot permit it! You dare not, at all.
    Accepting that outrage on all else may fall!
    I cry with the final gasps of my breath:
    You dare not repose, nor stand and forget

    Pardon them not – they know what they do!
    They breathe on hate-glows, and evil pursue,
    They fancy to slay, they revel with cries,
    Their desire is to gloat, when our world is at fire!
    In blood they are yearning to drown one and all!
    Don’t you believe it? You’ve heard the call!

    You know how infants will soldiers remain,
    While dashing through streets, fields, chanting ‘bout pain
    Aroused by their mothers‘ assurance of glory
    They’ll shelter their land – and they’ll never worry

    You know the fatality of the lies,
    that glory and faith and honor abides
    You discern the dauntless dreams of a child,
    A saber, a banner, he’ll flaunt them so wild,

    And then they’ll leave home for a rainfall of steel,
    ‘Till last they hang ragged on barbed wire will,
    Decaying for Hitler’s Aryan call,
    That is what a man’s for – after all…

    I couldn’t imagine – too late now it is
    My sentence is just: The verdict’s no miss
    I believed in prosperity, dreamt about peace
    In labor and fellowship; love’s fragrant kiss
    Yet those who don’t die on the battlefield,
    Their heads for the axeman, will certainly yield

    I cry in the gloom – if only you’d knew
    There is but one thing – befitting to do
    Defend yourself, while your hands are still yearning,
    Protect your offspring – Europe is burning.


    I shook from the chill. To dress, up I rose
    Without stars were shining, so far, yet so close
    ‘twere simply a brilliant ray in the east,
    Admonishing warning from the dream that just ceased

    The day that soared up from earths furthermost strand
    Augmenting with blood — and with firebrand
    It grew with terror – like a breath that was lost
    It seemed like the starlight – was slain by the frost.

    I weighed: Something is imminent – and it’s dire
    Our era is over — Europe’s on fire!

    But also, special mention for Prufrock and Second Coming. Most especially for “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”. Internet, I wrote you a poem!

    Premier Icon desboy3

    This has always been a favourite-

    Blackberry Picking

    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.

    Seamus Heaney

    Premier Icon maccruiskeen


    The fir tree stands quite still and angles
    On the hill, for green Triangles.

    Stewing in the billy there
    The tea is stong, and brown and Square.

    The rain is Slant. Soaked fishers sup
    Sad Elllipses from a cup.

    Ian Hamilton Finlay


    John Hegley – Very Bad Dog

    I took Rover over to the park the other day
    I met another bloke with another dog on the way
    his dog was an alsation
    my dog was not
    he said is that dog an alsation
    I said no
    and he said why don’t you get a proper dog?
    and I said Rover
    ignore this copper
    and I pick up a stick
    and I hold it over Rover
    and say Rover jump out of the clover
    and get stuck into the stick
    and Rover jumps out of the clover
    and bites me in the arm
    my dog my dog why hast thou mistaken me?
    I am not calm
    my dog has done me harm
    in my arm
    I show him the toothmarks
    see Rover where the skin is mauver
    Rover sees these nasty marks
    he barks
    and he begs
    for forgiveness
    yet I know I must break his legs


    and at the other end of the canine continuum, On a Good Dog by Ogden Nash

    O, my little pup ten years ago
    was arrogant and spry,
    Her backbone was a bended bow
    for arrows in her eye.
    Her step was proud, her bark was loud,
    her nose was in the sky,
    But she was ten years younger then,
    And so, by God, was I.

    Small birds on stilts along the beach
    rose up with piping cry.
    And as they rose beyond her reach
    I thought to see her fly.
    If natural law refused her wings,
    that law she would defy,
    for she could do unheard-of things,
    and so, at times, could I.

    Ten years ago she split the air
    to seize what she could spy;
    Tonight she bumps against a chair,
    betrayed by milky eye!
    She seems to pant, Time up, time up!
    My little dog must die,
    And lie in dust with Hector’s pup;
    So, presently, must I.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv

    Flowers by Wendy Cope. I chose it for my wife as a wedding reading,cos it sums up perfectly how crap I am at presents and flowers (basically, if you can buy it in duty free or nick it from a hotel room)


    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 bought

    Have lasted all this while.

    Premier Icon Northwind

    Ah, that’s lovely theotherjonv.


    This one from Robert Creeley. It’s got everything in a few short lines.

    Old Song

    Take off your clothes, love,
    And come to me.

    Soon will the sun be breaking
    Over yon sea.

    And all of our hairs be white, love,
    For aught we do

    And all our nights be one, love,
    For all we knew.


    Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening – Robert Forst

    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.

    Premier Icon Coyote

    Can’t believe no dads (or mums!) have listed this one.

    The stars have switched their lights on.
    Day’s curtains have been drawn.
    The birds are nesting in the trees,
    There’s dew upon the lawn.

    The toys are in their boxes,
    The stories have been read.
    It’s time for drifting off to sleep,
    Tucked safely up in bed.

    Been a staple in our house for over 10 years.



    The Steyning Poen

    I can’t forget the lane that goes from Steyning to the Ring
    In summer time, and on the Down how larks and linnets sing
    High in the sun. The wind comes off the sea, and Oh the air!
    I never knew till now that life in old days was so fair.
    But now I know it in this filthy rat infested ditch
    When every shell may spare or kill – and God alone knows which.
    And I am made a beast of prey, and this trench is my lair.
    My God! I never knew till now that those days were so fair.
    So we assault in half an hour, and, – it’s a silly thing –
    I can’t forget the narrow lane to Chanctonbury Ring.

    Premier Icon somafunk

    It has to be one of Siegfred Sasson poems for me – “Suicide in the Trenches” – i admit it’s not a very happy poem but it has always held a power and it’s sheer brutality shocked me as kid and it still does to this day.

    As an aside i worked with his great great niece until quite recently, her great great grandad was Siegfreds brother, in her eyes he was the side of the family that was not talked about as he squandered a fortune, lived a bohemian life and was a “waster” in her eyes – needless to say we only had one conversation regarding him and it got rather heated, that’s putting it politely as it was a full blown argument and i eventually stormed out of work as i couldn’t believe what she was saying with regard to him as a person, she didn’t consider his poetry a “worthy job” as such and his lifestyle disgusted her and he was good for nothing. There was no mention of the comfort his poems brought to thousands, no mention of what his fellow soldiers thought of him, no mention of his contribution to the arts of the time, It was a subject we never talked about again.

    Anyway…the poem……..it’s the final verse that really hits home for me.

    Suicide In The Trenches

    I knew a simple soldier boy
    Who grinned at life in empty joy,
    Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
    And whistled early with the lark.

    In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
    With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
    He put a bullet through his brain.
    No one spoke of him again.

    You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
    Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
    Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
    The hell where youth and laughter go.


    Good thread. Not my fav, but not a bad one.

    THE GEEBUNG POLO CLUB by A.B. “Banjo” Paterson

    It was somewhere up the country in a land of rock and scrub,
    That they formed an institution called the Geebung Polo Club.
    They were long and wiry natives of the rugged mountainside,
    And the horse was never saddled that the Geebungs couldn’t ride;
    But their style of playing polo was irregular and rash –
    They had mighty little science, but a mighty lot of dash:
    And they played on mountain ponies that were muscular and strong,
    Though their coats were quite unpolished, and their manes and tails were long.
    And they used to train those ponies wheeling cattle in the scrub:
    They were demons, were the members of the Geebung Polo Club.

    It was somewhere down the country, in a city’s smoke and steam,
    That a polo club existed, called the Cuff and Collar Team.
    As a social institution ’twas a marvellous success,
    For the members were distinguished by exclusiveness and dress.
    They had natty little ponies that were nice, and smooth, and sleek,
    For their cultivated owners only rode ’em once a week.
    So they started up the country in pursuit of sport and fame,
    For they meant to show the Geebungs how they ought to play the game;
    And they took their valets with them – just to give their boots a rub
    Ere they started operations on the Geebung Polo Club.

    Now my readers can imagine how the contest ebbed and flowed,
    When the Geebung boys got going it was time to clear the road;
    And the game was so terrific that ere half the time was gone
    A spectator’s leg was broken – just from merely looking on.
    For they waddied one another till the plain was strewn with dead,
    While the score was kept so even that they neither got ahead.
    And the Cuff and Collar captain, when he tumbled off to die,
    Was the last surviving player – so the game was called a tie.

    Then the captain of the Geebungs raised him slowly from the ground,
    Though his wounds were mostly mortal, yet he fiercely gazed around;
    There was no one to oppose him – all the rest were in a trance,
    So he scrambled on his pony for his last expiring chance,
    For he meant to make an effort to get victory to his side;
    So he struck at goal – and missed it – then he tumbled off and died.

    By the old Campaspe River, where the breezes shake the grass,
    There’s a row of little gravestones that the stockmen never pass,
    For they bear a crude inscription saying, “Stranger, drop a tear,
    For the Cuff and Collar players and the Geebung boys lie here.”
    And on misty moonlit evenings, while the dingoes howl around,
    You can see their shadows flitting down that phantom polo ground;
    You can hear the loud collisions as the flying players meet,
    And the rattle of the mallets, and the rush of ponies’ feet,
    Till the terrified spectator rides like blazes to the pub –
    He’s been haunted by the spectres of the Geebung Polo Club.

    Premier Icon martinhutch

    Here’s a bit of 70s West Country fun. Whatever happened to Pam Ayres?

    My mother had a Flit gun
    It was not devoid of charm.
    A bit of Flit
    Came out of it
    The rest shot up her arm.


    The Lake Isle of Innisfree – Yeats

    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.

    Premier Icon mattbee

    This one by G K Chesterton is one of my favourites.

    The Rolling English Road

    Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
    The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.
    A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire,
    And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire;
    A merry road, a mazy road, and such as we did tread
    The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head.

    I knew no harm of Bonaparte and plenty of the Squire,
    And for to fight the Frenchman I did not much desire;
    But I did bash their baggonets because they came arrayed
    To straighten out the crooked road an English drunkard made,
    Where you and I went down the lane with ale-mugs in our hands,
    The night we went to Glastonbury by way of Goodwin Sands.

    His sins they were forgiven him; or why do flowers run
    Behind him; and the hedges all strengthening in the sun?
    The wild thing went from left to right and knew not which was which,
    But the wild rose was above him when they found him in the ditch.
    God pardon us, nor harden us; we did not see so clear
    The night we went to Bannockburn by way of Brighton Pier.

    My friends, we will not go again or ape an ancient rage,
    Or stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age,
    But walk with clearer eyes and ears this path that wandereth,
    And see undrugged in evening light the decent inn of death;
    For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen,
    Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.

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