My Favourite Poets

    "A Levels" - I first heard this little gem at school - yes, last century. Now with three teenagers in the house and A Level / GCSE stress all over again, I keep thinking of it.  Thanks Spike Milligan:

    A' Levels

    Those energy wrought children
                their limbs loaded into school desks
    In the shadows they are fed
                                    Algebra - Science - Syntax.
    Outside, the ignorant
                are laughing and playing
                in the sun.

Christmas / Winter Favourites

Emily Dickinson (1830 - 1886) - an American poetess so ahead of her time

Before the Ice
Before the ice is in the pools,
Before the skaters go,
Or any check at nightfall
Is tarnished by the snow,
Before the fields have finished,
Before the Christmas tree,
Wonder upon wonder 
Will arrive to me!

What we touch the hems of
On a summer's day—
What is only walking
Just a bridge away—

That which sings so—speaks so—
When there's no one here—
Will the frock I wept in
Answer me to wear?

From the wonderful Simon Armitage's 'Book of Matches'

Mother, any distance greater than a single span
requires a second pair of hands.
You come to help me measure windows, pelmets, doors,
the acres of the walls, the prairies of the floors.

You at the zero-end, me with the spool of tape, recording
length, reporting metres, centimetres back to base, then leaving
up the stairs, the line still feeding out, unreeling
years between us. Anchor. Kite.

I space-walk through the empty bedrooms, climb
the ladder to the loft, to breaking point, where something
has to give;
two floors below your fingertips still pinch
the last one-hundredth of an inch...I reach
towards a hatch that opens on an endless sky
to fall or fly.

Check out this audio of a very funny poem by Reading poet A.F. Harrold
Just come across it and I love it!

* * *

by Sylvia Plath

Now this particular girl
During a ceremonious april walk
With her latest suitor
Found herself, of a sudden, intolerably struck
By the birds' irregular babel
And the leaves' litter.

By this tumult afflicted, she
Observed her lover's gestures unbalance the air,
His gait stray uneven
Through a rank wilderness of fern and flower;
She judged petals in disarray,
The whole season, sloven.

How she longed for winter then! --
Scrupulously austere in its order
Of white and black
Ice and rock; each sentiment within border,
And heart's frosty discipline
Exact as a snowflake.

But here -- a burgeoning
Unruly enough to pitch her five queenly wits
Into vulgar motley --
A treason not to be borne; let idiots
Reel giddy in bedlam spring:
She withdrew neatly.

And round her house she set
Such a barricade of barb and check
Against mutinous weather
As no mere insurgent man could hope to break
With curse, fist, threat
Or love, either.


Another Reading star - Gill Learner

Quartet For The End Of Time
by Olivier Messiaen

It seemed that the horsemen
had broken through the seals.
Men scuffed between huts:
snow creaked under clogs
that gnawed their feet;
breath blurred heads,
settled on patched uniforms
wrenched from defeated troops.
When the aurora borealis flushed the Silesian sky
one Frenchman’s faith hardened.
Because there never was enough
black bread or cabbage boiled to rags,
his dreams rang bright as cathedral windows.
He pinned eternity to a stave,
shaped hope in sharps and semiquavers;
shared his vision.
Cracked lips called birdsong from a clarinet;
swollen hands flicked at piano keys
to conjure gongs and trumpets;
fingers barely thawed
stopped strings
as two bows spun prismatic arcs.
Four hundred men
barbed-wired together
fattened on rainbow music.