As soon as I had the keys for the bookshop I started making mental notes of the titles i really wanted to stock and share including poetry books. Not only does poetry shed a sideways light on the world around us but in this world of limited travel it has takes us to the most wondrous places. Who can fail to be transported by this description of how Gwydion makes Lleu a magic bride out of flowers...
Meadowsweet for sweetness, with its smell of stale candy,
shrivelled cream flowers they strew between bedsheets;
broomflowers for silken gaudiness;
oak catkins for their gentle tickling of the wind.
I, who had sculpted mushrooms, woven seaweed,
and whisked a fleet from feathers and spray,
could conjure what he needed from these fripperies.
The air was golden with her pollen
as I heaped her on the bed
in frilly armfuls,
till a millions petals fused
into a woman.
This extract is taken from The Mabinogi by Matthew Francis. The Mabinogi is the Welsh national epic of prose tales of war, enchantment, adventure and romance. Mathew Francis's retelling of the first stories is the first to situate it in poetry and truly captures the magic and strangeness of this celtic medieval world....I defy your heart not to beat a little faster or indeed to be stolen!
In the same way I think children should be allowed to read the Beano for fun and not be forced to read the classics until they are truly ready to absorb them I believe there is a poet out there that will enchant each of us, we simply have to discover it....for me it was that unforgettable reading of WH Auden's Funeral Blues by actor John Hannah in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral which quickly lead to a love of poet Stevie Smith. The world of the poet should not be thought of as scary or high-brow but a world where everybody is welcome to come sit and be for a while, allow it to speak to you in your own language.
I was digging through As I Walked Out One evening by Auden and these four lines caught my eye as fitting for our times.
Ladies and gentlemen, sitting here,
Eating and drinking and warming a chair,
Feeling and thinking and drawing your breath,
Who's sitting next to you, it may be death
Another poet to loose myself in is Spike Milligan, who can fail to be entertained by this wonderfully erudite, funny man? I leave you with this favourite, I hope to start a poetry group very soon so do please join us in our joy of the rhyming and not ryhming word.
Said Hamlet to Opheila,
I'll draw a sketch of thee,
What kind of pencil shall I use?
2B or not 2B?