April is poetry month. There are lots of blogs where people have written their own poetry (some on a daily basis!) in celebration of that fact, but this is not one of them. I’ve never really been great at writing it, so I have tended to steer clear. My poetry writing standard is something along the lines of -
I’ve never seen a purple cow
I never hope to see one
But I can tell you, anyhow
I’d rather see than be one.
I’ve known The Purple Cow for ever, it seems, and I’ve just done a quick Google search to find out that the author was Gelett Burgess who wrote it in 1895 – you learn something new every day – I thought it was something from the 1960′s and not anything by an ‘official’ poet. Anyway, that’s about the standard that I could probably manage.
Being unable, or reluctant, to write poetry doesn’t mean that I don’t like it, in fact I like some of it quite a lot, and enjoy using it in my teaching. I enjoyed some of the poetry we did at school (way back in the olden days), and as long as it had a good story and rhythm with lots of rhyming words, then I enjoyed it. My particular favourite was The Lady of Shalott by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Over the years I have made several attempts to learn it off by heart, but have never managed to get beyond a few verses! We were doing a lot of poetry work at school recently and so I bought myself a copy of The Nation’s Favourite Poems, and there, at number 2 on the list, is The Lady of Shallott, so it seems I’m not alone in liking it!
The Nation’s Favourite Poems is a great collection and is well worth a look if you get the chance – lots of familiar ones there I expect. In at number 45 on the list is The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear – that brings back many memories, as does Please Mrs Butler by Allan Ahlberg which is number 40. The Owl and the Pussycat I remember from childhood days, and Please Mrs Butler I think I first came across when I had started teaching and it makes me smile every time I read it.
It would be good to be able to round off this post with a little ditty, or limerick, that I had composed especially for the occasion but, as that won’t be happening, I will finish with the first verse of The Lady of Shalott:
On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro’ the field the road runs by
To many towered Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below;
The island of Shalott
Strong rhythm, lots of rhyming words and the promise of a good story…. perfect.