Poetry

The Poetry group meet on the 3rd Friday of each month in Eastwood Library between 12.30-1.30 pm. The contacts for the group are Jenny Ball on 01773 602 347 or Freda Hallsworth on 01773 861 502.

There are about fifteen members in our friendly group and we decide amongst ourselves the theme for our next meeting. Each member chooses a couple of poems on the theme and we take it in turns to read our choices. These can range from well-known works by famous poets to verses written by amateurs, and even some by one of our members. However, it must be stressed that the aim of the group is to read and enjoy poetry. You don’t have to be a poet to come along and share the pleasure of listening to poems and taking part in the lively discussions that can follow.

You can be assured of a warm welcome so why not come and join us?

For more information, contact either of the group co-ordinators.

Future meetings: –

The topic for our next meeting on November 16th is “Woods, Trees and Forests”.

Our December meeting is on Friday 21st when we will read festive poems, have a quiz and enjoy some seasonal nibbles.

Previous meeting reports

October 19th 2018: 

Our topic this month was Sports and Games.  We enjoyed a wide selection of poems ranging from verses about children in the playground to a reading of Invictus, which was most appropriate due to the Invictus Games starting the following day.  These are the poems that we read:

  • ·       Not in Vain                              An American teenager
  • ·       Sports Day                               Anon
  • ·       Grandma                                Anon
  • ·       Skating                                    Wordsworth
  • ·       Invictus                                   W E Henley
  • ·       At Lords                                  Francis Thompson
  • ·       Tennis                                     Hannah Freeman
  • ·       Life is Like a Game of Golf      Anon
  • ·       Casey at the Bat                      Ernest L Theyer
  • ·       Golf – sleep                             Billy Collins
  • ·       What Fun                                Anon
  • ·       Sumo Wrestler Chappie         Paul Cookson
  • ·       John My Football Hero           Anon
  • ·       The Perfect Match                  Glyn Maxwell
  • ·       Seaside Golf                            John Betjeman
  • ·       The Runners                           Allan Ahlberg
  • ·       Picking Teams                         Allan Ahlberg
  • ·       Tennis Balls                             Anon
  • ·       Dog Days                                 Marian Elliott

September 2018 -After our summer break, members met to read a selection of first or last lines from their favourite poems. This was a lively and entertaining meeting and, not surprisingly, there were many popular and well-loved verses chosen. We had decided that these would be the theme for the Groups’ Showcase meeting on 3rd October. Jenny produced a beautiful display board with many well-known lines – a lot of which are in common usage.

Friday 20th July: We looked at the work of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  We found that many of their poems were extremely long and some were also sombre.      These are the poems we read, with some being extracts from the whole work.

Robert Browning:-

·       My Last Duchess                                                     

·       Home Thoughts From Abroad

·       Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came

·       The Pied Piper of Hamelin

·       How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix

·       Youth

·       One Way of Love

·       Pippa Passes

Elizabeth Barrett Browning:-

·       How Do I Love Thee

·       My Kate

·       A Musical Instrument

·       The Cry of the Children

·       My Heart and I

 This is an interesting extract from Westminster Abbey website:-

Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning   Writer and Poet

The poet Robert Browning is buried in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. He was born on 7th May 1812 in London, a son of Robert Browning (1782-1866) and Sarah (Wiedemann). He married Elizabeth Barrett, a famous poet in her own right, in September 1846. They lived much of their life in Italy, due to her poor health, and their son was also called Robert (but known as Pen). The Ring and the Book is considered to be his best work and his poem ‘Oh, to be in England, now that April’s there’ is well known. Browning died at his son’s house on the Grand Canal in Venice and was to have been buried alongside his wife in Florence but the cemetery had been closed.

The Dean of Westminster, a friend of the poet, offered burial in Westminster Abbey and the family accepted. Robert’s body was returned to London by train. The various certificates needed for the journey through Italy and France are kept in the Abbey archives. The British Vice Consul in Venice certified that his body was enclosed in three sealed cases, one of metal and two of wood. He was buried in Poets’ Corner, near Chaucer’s monument, on 31st December 1889. The Dean had also agreed to the family’s request that Elizabeth be re-interred with her husband but then the family withdrew their application. Alfred, Lord Tennyson was laid to rest beside him in 1892 and the ashes of John Masefield, who died in 1967, lie at his head.

The present gravestone was laid down in 1894 and is composed of brown and cream Italian marble with red porphyry and the inscription reads: ROBERT BROWNING MAY 7 1812 DEC 12 1889.

 In 1906 an inscription was added at the base of the stone: His wife ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING is buried in Florence 1806-1861.

 She was a child of Edward Barrett and was an invalid when Robert began a correspondence with her which led to a secret engagement and later marriage. Her first work to gain public attention was The Seraphim and other poems. After Wordsworth’s death it was thought she might succeed him as Poet Laureate but that did not happen. Her main work is Aurora Leigh.

Friday June 15th:

There were 11 members at our June meeting and the topic was Desert Island Poems.  Members chose poems they would like to have with them if marooned on a desert island.  There were some very emotional moments as, understandably, a lot of the poems chosen recalled childhood and family.  These were the poems selected:-

Rain                                          Spike Milligan

Sea Fever                                 John Masefield

The Night Mail                       W H Auden

The Five Senses                      Charlotte Wigley (age 9yrs)

Farewell to the Highlands    Robert Burns

Eden Rock                                Charles Causley

From a Railway Carriage       R L Stevenson

Cargoes                                      John Masefield

I Love Little Kitty                    Anon

Mr Mistopheles                        T S Elliott

The Spires of Oxford               Winifred M Letts

Nod                                             Walter de la Mare

The Jervis Bay                           Michael Thwaites

Warning                                      Jenny Joseph

The Garden                                 Andrew Marvell

Clock A Clay                                John Clare

Let Me Die a Young Man’s Death                Roger McGough

Veruca Salt                                   Roald Dahl  

 

Friday May 18th:

The topic for our May meeting was Spike Milligan and other comic verse. These are some of the poems we read:-

Peekaboo                                           Ogden Nash

The Mad Gardeners Song            Lewis Carroll

A Dressmaker                                    Jean Kenward

Granny                                                 Spike Milligan

On Comparing                                   Pam Ayres

My Husband                                      to Robbie Burns

The Lion                                               Roald Dahl

My Forgetter

The Supply Teacher                        Allan Ahlberg

Jolly Hunter                                        Charles Causley

Dew Pond and Black Drainpipes                Selima Hill

On the Ning Nag Nong                   Spike Milligan

Friday April 20th:

There were only 9 members at our April meeting but we read a wide selection of poems about Spring and flowers.

In the Spring – Tennyson

Pink Almond – Katharine Tynan

Daffodils- Wordsworth

The Rhodora – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Rose Red – Emilie

Autumn Flower – Urban (Nick) Heath

Where the Passion Flower Grows – Charles M Moore

The Thrushes Nest – John Clare

An Unkindly May – Thomas Hardy

At Atlanta in Caledonia – Swinburne

Home Thoughts from Abroad – Robert Browning

Mud, mud Glorious Mud – Michael Flanders

Morning Peace – Joanna Keeling

Sonnet No. 5 – To a Friend who sent me Roses – Keats

Flowers – Rola Barbakh

Three humorous ones by Anon – The Little Plant: The Little Seed and 5 Little Seeds Child’s Song in Spring – E Nesbit

Weathers – Thomas Hardy

The Field Daisy – June Taylor

The Loveliest of Trees – A E Housman

Trees – Joyce Kilmer

A Rose is a Rose – Roopali

Over Hill Over Dale – from Shakespeare Midsummer Night’s Dream

From Pippa Passes – The Year’s at the Spring – Robert Browning

Friday 16th March:

Following the theme of looking at the works of particular poets, the eleven members at this month’s meeting discussed and read poems by Tennyson.  

Born on August 6, 1809, in Somersby, Lincolnshire, England, Alfred Lord Tennyson is one of the most well-loved Victorian poets. Tennyson, the fourth of twelve children, showed an early talent for writing. At the age of twelve he wrote a 6,000-line epic poem. His father, the Reverend George Tennyson, tutored his sons in classical and modern languages. In the 1820s, however, Tennyson’s father began to suffer frequent mental breakdowns that were exacerbated by alcoholism. One of Tennyson’s brothers had violent quarrels with his father, a second was later confined to an insane asylum, and another became an opium addict.

Tennyson escaped home in 1827 to attend Trinity College, Cambridge. In that same year, he and his brother Charles published Poems by Two Brothers. Although the poems in the book were mostly juvenilia, they attracted the attention of the “Apostles,” an undergraduate literary club led by Arthur Hallam. The “Apostles” provided Tennyson, who was tremendously shy, with much needed friendship and confidence as a poet. Hallam and Tennyson became the best of friends; they toured Europe together in 1830 and again in 1832. Hallam’s sudden death in 1833 greatly affected the young poet. The long elegy In Memoriam and many of Tennyson’s other poems are tributes to Hallam.

In 1830, Tennyson published Poems, Chiefly Lyrical and in 1832 he published a second volume entitled simply Poems. Some reviewers condemned these books as “affected” and “obscure.” Tennyson, stung by the reviews, would not publish another book for nine years. In 1836, he became engaged to Emily Sellwood. When he lost his inheritance on a bad investment in 1840, Sellwood’s family called off the engagement. In 1842, however, Tennyson’s Poems in two volumes was a tremendous critical and popular success. In 1850, with the publication of In Memoriam,

Tennyson became one of Britain’s most popular poets. He was selected Poet Laureate in succession to Wordsworth. In that same year, he married Emily Sellwood. They had two sons, Hallam and Lionel.

At the age of 41, Tennyson had established himself as the most popular poet of the Victorian era. The money from his poetry (at times exceeding 10,000 pounds per year) allowed him to purchase a house in the country and to write in relative seclusion. His appearance—a large and bearded man, he regularly wore a cloak and a broad brimmed hat—enhanced his notoriety. He read his poetry with a booming voice, often compared to that of Dylan Thomas. In 1859, Tennyson published the first poems of Idylls of the Kings, which sold more than 10,000 copies in one month. In 1884, he accepted a peerage, becoming Alfred Lord Tennyson. Tennyson died on October 6, 1892, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Although some of Tennyson’s works are very long, it is surprising how many well-known phrases feature in them. His style of verse and rhyme was not to some members’ taste. Learning about his life and background gave more meaning to the poems we read, some of which are extracts from his longer works.  We read: –

· Charge of the Light Brigade

· The Brook

· From Memorium (extract)

· The Cracken

· Break, Break, Break

· Fatima

· The Eagle

· The Owl

· Crossing the Bar

· The Shell

· Come Not When I am Dead

· “Song” from the Princess

· The Merman

· The Mermaid

· The Lady of Shallot – verses read in turn by members

Friday January 16th:

We decided that in 2018, rather than always reading poems based on a chosen topic, we would also look at the works of specific poets.

At our December meeting we had expressed surprise on finding that “There Was a Little Girl” had been written by Longfellow.  We therefore decided to look at his other works for our January meeting, together with learning more about Longfellow’s life.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine—then still part of Massachusetts—on February 27, 1807, the second son in a family of eight children. His mother, Zilpah Wadsworth, was the daughter of a Revolutionary War hero. His father, Stephen Longfellow, was a prominent Portland lawyer and later a member of Congress. Henry was a dreamy boy who loved to read. He heard sailors speaking Spanish, French and German in the Portland streets and liked stories set in foreign places: The Arabian Nights, Robinson Crusoe, and the plays of Shakespeare. After graduating from Bowdoin College, Longfellow studied modern languages in Europe for three years, then returned to Bowdoin to teach them. In 1831 he married Mary Storer Potter of Portland, a former classmate, and soon published his first book, a description of his travels called Outre Mer (“Overseas”). But in November 1835, during a second trip to Europe, Longfellow’s life was shaken when his wife died during a miscarriage. The young teacher spent a grief-stricken year in Germany and Switzerland.

Longfellow took a position at Harvard in 1836. Three years later, at the age of thirty-two, he published his first collection of poems, Voices of the Night, followed in 1841 by Ballads and Other Poems. Many of these poems (“A Psalm of Life,” for example) showed people triumphing over adversity, and in a struggling young nation that theme was inspiring. Both books were very popular, but Longfellow’s growing duties as a professor left him little time to write more. In addition, Frances Appleton, a young woman from Boston, had refused his proposal of marriage. Frances finally accepted his proposal the following spring, ushering in the happiest eighteen years of Longfellow’s life. The couple had six children, five of whom lived to adulthood, and the marriage gave him new confidence. In 1847, he published Evangeline, a book-length poem about what would now be called “ethnic cleansing.” The poem takes place as the British drive the French from Nova Scotia, and two lovers are parted, only to find each other years later when the man is about to die.

In 1854, Longfellow decided to quit teaching to devote all his time to poetry. He published Hiawatha, a long poem about Native American life, and The Courtship of Miles Standish and Other Poems. Both books were immensely successful, but Longfellow was now preoccupied with national events. With the country moving toward civil war, he wrote “Paul Revere’s Ride,” a call for courage in the coming conflict. A few months after the war began in 1861, Frances Longfellow was sealing an envelope with wax when her dress caught fire. Despite her husband’s desperate attempts to save her, she died the next day. Profoundly saddened, Longfellow published nothing for the next two years. He found comfort in his family and in reading Dante’s Divine Comedy. (Later, he produced its first American translation.) Tales of a Wayside Inn,<> largely written before his wife’s death, was published in 1863.

When the Civil War ended in 1865, the poet was fifty-eight. His most important work was finished, but his fame kept growing. In London alone, twenty-four different companies were publishing his work. His poems were popular throughout the English-speaking world, and they were widely translated, making him the most famous American of his day. His admirers included Abraham Lincoln, Charles Dickens, and Charles Baudelaire.  From 1866 to 1880, Longfellow published seven more books of poetry, and his seventy-fifth birthday in 1882 was celebrated across the country. But his health was failing, and he died the following month, on March 24 1882.

We read the following poems and noted some recurring themes of family, home and fire.

  • The Twilight
  • The Arrow and the Song
  • Holidays
  • Children’s Hour
  • The Psalm of Life
  • The Village Blacksmith
  • The Golden Milestone
  • Rain in Summer
  • The Fire of Driftwood
  • Daybreak
  • A Gleam of Sunshine
  • Snowflakes
  • The Bridge
  • There Was a Little Girl

Surprisingly nobody read an excerpt from Hiawatha – probably Longfellow’s most well-known work. We may revisit this at a later date.

Friday 20th October 2017:

There were 12 members present and the topic for this month was “Falling”.  The poems we read reflected many interpretations of “Falling”, some funny and some very sad.

  • This Life                                                        Grace Paley
  • The Falling Leaves                                      Margaret Cole
  • Valentine                                                      John Fuller
  • Falling Asleep                                              B J Lee
  • The Rainy Day                                             H Longfellow
  • Down, Down                                                Anon
  • Autumn Fires                                               R L Stevenson
  • The Falling Star                                           Sarah Teesdale
  • Autumn Leaves (Les Feuilles Mortes)   Johnny Mercer (Jacques Prevert)
  • Falling Leaves                                              Lester Simpson
  • The Falling Man – 9/11                              Judith Evans
  • Falling Up                                                     James Grengs
  • Conkers                                                         John Stafford
  • No 20 – A Coney Island Stall                    Lawrence Ferling Hetti
  • I’ve Just Seen a Face                                   Lennon and McCartney
  • The Falling of the Leaves                           W B Yeats
  • Can’t Help Myself (Ron’s Ode to Kath!)  Anon
  • Falling Asleep in Class                                Ken Nesbitt
  • The Old Man of Blackheath                       from Read Me and Laugh
  • The Leaves Are Green                                Anon
  • The Red Sun                                                 Anon
  • Roads                                                            Jesse Stanton
  • Elegy in a Country Churchyard               G K Chesterton
  • On the Bannisters                                       Margaret Gibbs
  • The Death of a Hired Man                        Robert Frost

Friday 15th September 2017:

There were 13 members at this month’s meeting.  Our chosen topic was “Questions and Answers” and these are the poems we read.

· The Spider and the Fly                                                     Mary Hallett

The Deadly   Sandwich Board                                          Shirley McIntyre

· The Elephant’s Child (Six Honest Serving Men)        Rudyard Kipling

· I Wonder                                                                             Jeanie Kirby

· What can ail thee, Knight-at-arms?                              John Keats

· Do I Love Thee?                                                                 John Godfrey Saxe

· In a Bath Teashop                                                              John Betjeman

· The Green Fields of France                                              Dropkick Murphys

· Questions of a Studious man                                           Bertott Brecht

· I Wish I had the Answers                                                  Ray Hansell

· Questions Answering Questions                                      RoseAnn V. Shawiak

· What if this Road                                                                 Sheenagh Pugh

· How many Roads Must a Man Walk Down                   Bob Dillon

· Did I Turn Off my Tongs?                                                  Pam Ayres

· Taking a Taxi to a Wedding                                               Connie Bensley

· Question Not                                                                         Adam Lindsay Gordon

· The Wind                                                                               Dorothy Wordsworth

· Armageddon                                                                         Jenny Ball

· Shall I Compare Thee                                                          William Shakespeare

· On Love                                                                                   Kahlil Gibran

· Big Steamers                                                                           Rudyard Kipling

· More Questions than Answers                                            Johnny Nash

· Reverse the Question                                                             Silence Screams

· Tell Me Why                                                                Atasha Ashaki Renee Williams

· Mud On His Shoes                                                                 Christina Robson

Friday 21st July 2017

There were 16 members at our meeting today including two new members Derek and Margaret who we welcomed to the group. Our topic this month was “Animals” and, unsurprisingly, quite a lot of the poems were about dogs. There were also a number of familiar poems which are still enjoyed no matter how many times you hear them.  These are the poems we read:-

  • Show Time                                                                                     Mary Oliver
  • Puppy Problems                                                                            Pam Ayres
  • The Animal Shelter in Gardener’s Lane                                  Pam Ayres
  • The Crocodile                                                                                Lewis Carroll
  • The Owl and the Pussycat                                                           Edward Lear
  • The Lion and Albert                                                                     Marriott Edgar
  • The Dog                                                                                           Anon
  • Little Worm                                                                                    Spike Milligan
  • On a Cat Aging                                                                               Alexander Gray
  • Deer                                                                                                  John Drinkwater
  • Sheep                                                                                                Eileen Bauer
  • Ballad of Bobo’s Bits                                                                      Shirley McIntyre
  • The Tyger                                                                                         William Blake
  • A parody of “The Tyger                                                                 Micheala Morgan
  • The Woodman’s Dog                                                                     William Cowper
  • Lone Dog                                                                                          Irene McLeod
  • The Heaven at Animals                                                                 James Dickey
  • Muuuum                                                                                           Peter Dickson
  • A Dog at Home                                                                                Pam Ayres
  • Macavity’s Cat                                                                                 T S Elliott
  • Anaconda                                                                                          Richard Edwards
  • Will You Walk a Little Faster                                                       Lewis Carroll
  • Before the Days of Noah                                                               Peter Dickson
  • Dog in the Playground                                                                  Allan Ahlberg
  • I am an Elephant                                                                            Denis Martindale
  • Noah’s Ark                                                                                        Denise Rogers
  • I Think I Could Turn and Live with Animals                            Walt Witham
  • The Caterpillar                                                                                 Christina Rosetti

Friday 16th June 2017  -‘ Relations and Relationships’

Our topic this month was “Relations and Relationships”. There were 14 members present and we enjoyed a wide choice of poems, some sad, some about situations we could all recognise and some very funny. These are the poems we read.

 

  1. Bitch                                                                        Carolyn Kizer
  2. Turn                                                                         Spike Milligan
  3. This Be The Verse                                                 Philip Larkin
  4. The Family Tree                                                    Olive Walters
  5. Which Shall It Be?                                                Ethel Lynn Beers
  6. Changing Places                                                    Alora M Knight
  7. Seduction                                                                Shirley McIntyre (a member of our group)
  8. Lord of the Rings                                                  J R R Tolkien
  9. Letting Go                                                               Anon
  10. I’m Going To Kill My Husband                          Pam Ayres
  11. Family Tree                                                            Lindsay Macrae
  12. Mum Expects                                                         Lindsay Macrae
  13. The Worlds’ Most Popular Mother                   Lindsay Macrae
  14. Celia, Celia                                                             Adrian Mitchell
  15. Friendship Lost                                                     Brenda T Metz
  16. A Friend                                                                  Trevor Millum
  17. How Life Too Is Sentimental                              Gavin Ewart
  18. My Little Grandson                                               Pam Ayres
  19. John Anderson, My Jo                                         Robert (Robbie) Burns
  20. When Polly Buys A Hat                                       E. Hill
  21. Family Likeness                                                    Janice Windle
  22. The Dishes Are Done                                           Ronald Doe
  23. Life Of A Cupcake                                                 Shelby Greer
  24. Grandmother                                                         Carolyn Devonshire
  25. Poor Dad                                                                 Pam Ayres
  26. Will You Be My Family                                        Lindsay Macrae
  27. You’re Mine                                                            Nettoli Rosales
  28. Breaking the Rules                                                Coral Rumble

Friday 19th May 2017      –           SPRING AND OTHER THINGS

We had chosen “Spring and other things” as the theme for our May meeting.  Quite a few of our members were away on the U3A trip to Whitby, but, even so, we read an interesting selection of poems, which are listed below.
            Grenadine                                                                 Susan Griffin
            Family Album                                                          Charles Causley
            Spring, the Sweet Spring                                       Thomas Nash
            Moyra Murray                                                          Richard Edwards
            My Wife the Gardener                                            Anon.
            The First Spring Morning                                     Robert Bridges
            Home Thoughts From Abroad                             Robert Browning
            Grounded                                                                   Eric Finney
            I So Liked Spring                                                     Charlotte Mew
            The Witches are All on Strike                               Richard Edwards
            Shropshire Lad                                                         A E Housman
            The Thrush’s Nest                                                   John Clare
            Words, Wide Night                                                 Carol Ann Duffy
            Spring Assembly                                                      Gerard Benson

Christmas Social: At the December monthly meeting members of the poetry group read a selection of festive poems, some well-known and others written by themselves. Their rendition of ‘Twas the night before Christmas’ by Clement Clarke Moore was widely appreciated by the audience, who were also entertained by the Ukulele and Creative Writing group. The members and committee gave thanks to the group for their valued contribution.

poetry-1 christmas-2

 

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